In an interview completely devoid of any self-awareness on her 9:00 a.m. ET hour show on Thursday, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle talked to Democratic Congressman and former Bill Clinton White House Staff Secretary Patrick Maloney about Trump White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter being embroiled in scandal following allegations of abuse by his ex-wives. Amazingly, rape and harassment accusations against President Clinton were never mentioned.
“The big question is, why give someone a job that important, that senior in our White House with this kind of background?,” Ruhle asked. Without irony, she then introduced Maloney: “I want to bring in Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the great state of New York, and he was also Staff Secretary to President Bill Clinton, so he certainly knows a lot about the job.”
He also knows a lot about what it’s like to work in a White House plagued by scandal, but Ruhle avoided pointing that out.
Maloney unloaded on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, claiming he “didn’t care” about the serious allegations against Porter. The liberal lawmaker ranted: “And even now is defending this conduct. Which is so sickening and so well documented...”
What about all of the Democrats who endlessly defended Bill Clinton as he was accused of sexual harassment and rape by multiple women? What about the detailed account provided by Juanita Broaddrick of Clinton brutally assaulting her? Was Maloney comfortable working for a man who faced such charges?
All of those would have been good questions for Ruhle to ask, but instead, she kept teeing the Congressman up to bash the Trump administration: “What surprises me, if you’ve got somebody with background like this, if the FBI is aware – if the White House is aware, is there not someone else in the Republican Party with the same qualifications but not the girlfriend, wife-beating background?”
Knowing he would never get called out about his old boss, Maloney piled on:
These victims came forward in January of 2017, right at the start of the administration, and they did so because they thought it was important that the FBI know this about someone in this high-level position and nothing was done. It sends a terrible message, it’s malpractice.
The Clinton White House and its henchmen consistently worked to destroy any woman who ever came forward to accuse the former president of wrongdoing. For any member of that administration to get on such a high horse when it comes to such scandals must be challenged by anyone who wants to consider themselves a responsible journalist.
But this is MSNBC, so that concern was never really on the table.
Unbelievably, this was how Ruhle wrapped up the softball exchange: “I want to know what family values means these days. Because it’s certainly strange to me.”
Obviously it is reasonable to criticize the Trump White House for its handling of the Porter scandal, but to bring on a guest who worked for an accused rapist to pass judgment on the topic goes beyond the pale.
Here is a full transcript of the February 8 interview:
9:05 AM ET
STEPHANIE RUHLE: Everyone has a right to defend themselves against allegations. The big question is, why give someone a job that important, that senior in our White House with this kind of background?
I want to bring in Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the great state of New York, and he was also Staff Secretary to President Bill Clinton, so he certainly knows a lot about the job. Congressman, good morning.
These allegations are stunning. That he physically and emotionally abused both of his ex-wives. Both of these women apparently told the FBI about this and he still got the job. That’s what sticks out to me. Does it surprise you?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY [D-NY]: Yes, greatly. There was not a day that went by that I did not have a stack of red folders on my desk marked “Top Secret” that went to the president. That means, for the entire time Rob Porter’s been at the White House, he has been handling the country’s greatest secrets with this secret of his own.
John Kelly clearly had to know about this. There is no way, I’m telling you, that the Staff Secretary to the President, served for 14 months without a security clearance, that the FBI did notify the chief of staff. Which means Kelly didn’t care. And even now is defending this conduct. Which is so sickening and so well documented, is so clearly proven by photographic evidence, by contemporary police reports. I mean, Rob Porter has a right to defend himself, but the American people have a right to expect that the Staff Secretary to the President isn’t gonna be blackmailed and can handle national security information. And John Kelly should know better.
RUHLE: How coveted a job is this? Because what surprises me, if you’ve got somebody with background like this, if the FBI is aware – if the White House is aware, is there not someone else in the Republican Party with the same qualifications but not the girlfriend, wife-beating background?
MALONEY: Look, that’s right. I mean, the question is, why would you put this person in that position? Wouldn’t you at least sideline them until you fully investigated it and found out what the facts are? To proceed so cavalierly is so reckless. And frankly, John Kelly is the person who has to answer for this. It’s one thing when an employee is trying to cover up some uncomfortable or even disgusting facts in their background like this, but John Kelly is supposed to know better. And when the FBI comes to you and says, “We can’t give the guy a security clearance, because of this,” you have a responsibility to act. There is a burn bag under the desk of the staff secretary because the material that person handles is among the most sensitive material our country has. This is outrageous.
RUHLE: How close would he be to President Trump, given how much you worked with President Clinton?
MALONEY: There is not a day that goes by in the West Wing that the staff secretary does not personally interact with the president, period.
RUHLE: Alright, I want to share a quote from The Washington Post: “Porter said on Tuesday that he would resign, after the allegations were first published, people close to him say...But he was talked out of it by Kelly and others, according to these people, with Kelly saying he believed Porter’s denials and saw him as a valuable ally in the White House. Kelly continued to press him to stay in his job Wednesday, saying he could weather the storm, but Porter decided the controversy had become too much.”
Sean, I’ve actually spoken to people in the White House who said, “I’m completely shocked.” While he was a valuable rising star in the White House, that goes out the window. When you learn these allegations, he simply can’t stay.
MALONEY: Look, I dealt with Rob Porter on a number of occasions. Incredibly impressive background, was always professional and helpful to me. But look, John Kelly is the chief of staff. When the FBI tells you he’s got this kind of problem, not only does he need to go, you need to care about this. These victims came forward in January of 2017, right at the start of the administration, and they did so because they thought it was important that the FBI know this about someone in this high-level position and nothing was done. It sends a terrible message, it’s malpractice. And it means somebody without a national security clearance, for more than a year now, has been handling that material and could have been blackmailed at any time.
RUHLE: Wow. Alright, one last question. There are reports that he dated, or has been dating, Hope Hicks. How unusual is it for White House aides to have a romantic relationship, can it be an issue? We know, those of us in the civilian world, office romance is pretty normal, but talk us through this going on inside the White House.
MALONEY: Look, I think under normal circumstances, you know, you wouldn’t be shocked that people who work long hours together meet and sometimes have a relationship. The issue here is what the conflicts are when Hope Hicks, as the communications director, needs to write a statement about this very serious issue. She should be no where near it. Common sense would tell you that you let someone else do it or recuse yourself because you have a personal conflict.
But in this White House, all the norms seem to be out the window. The chief of staff is told about wife beating, doesn’t care. He’s told a guy can’t get a national security clearance, they keep going away. And even when the pictures come out and it’s irrefutable, he’s defending the perpetrator, the wife beater, not the victims. And so, I’m not surprised that Hope Hicks, the young and rather inexperienced communications director, is writing a statement when she has a clear conflict of interest. It’s a normal day down at the Trump White House. But other Republicans and people who care about our national security need to speak up. Enough of this stuff.
RUHLE: I want to know what family values means these days. Because it’s certainly strange to me. At the very least, she’s got to break up with the guy. Hey, Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this morning, I really appreciate it.
MALONEY: Thanks, Stephanie.