Brought on to discuss the controversy surrounding White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly's handling of spousal abuse allegations against White House aide Rob Porter, a guest on CNN’s New Day Thursday used the opportunity to smear General Kelly as a racist.
Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics under President Obama, had previously tweeted out “So John Kelly, often touted as the White House’s adult, falsely smeared a congresswoman, tells us a failure to compromise on slavery caused the civil war, called dreamers lazy, and protected a wife beater. Tell us again, @PressSec, how we’re never allowed to criticize a general.”
At the beginning of the interview, Shaub suggested that Kelly took it easy on Porter because of his race, saying “He just decided that the white male employee working for him couldn’t possibly beat his former wives because he said he didn’t.”
Citing Kelly’s criticism of Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) as well as his statement about the group of illegal immigrants known as Dreamers as evidence, Shaub argued that “there’s a lot of people he doesn’t believe and trust because they look a certain way.” He added that Kelly believed Porter because “he looks the right way.”
Kelly had previously faced allegations of racism when he used the analogy “empty barrels make the most noise” to describe Rep. Wilson, who had leaked the contents of a supposedly private conversation between President Trump and a gold star widow. MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell said that his “segregated upbringing” in an Irish Catholic Boston neighborhood explained his remarks. The accusations of racism resurfaced after Kelly suggested that a group of illegal immigrants eligible for coverage under President Obama’s executive order known as DACA were “too lazy to get off their asses” to sign up for the program. Shaub, now a CNN contributor, all too happily joined the chorus of race-baiters.
Very few probably thought that a segment debating whether or not General Kelly knew about the spousal allegations against a West Wing staffer would devolve into a conversation about race. Once again, CNN managed to defy all expectations.
CNN New Day
CHRIS CUOMO: CNN has learned White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top aides did know for months about domestic abuse allegations against West Wing aide Rob Porter. But they, including Kelly, apparently did nothing. Former Director of Governor Ethics Walter Shaub tweeted “So John Kelly, often touted as the White House’s adult, falsely smeared a congresswoman, tells us a failure to compromise on slavery caused the Civil War, called dreamers lazy and protected a wife beater. Tell us again Press Secretary, how we’re ever, we’re never allowed to, tell us how we’re never allowed to criticize a general. Sorry for mangling the tweet. Joining us now is Walter Shaub, he is now a CNN contributor. It’s good to see you, sir.
WALTER SHAUB: Good morning.
CUOMO: Well, let’s, let’s give clearance on...we have CNN reporting that, that says they did know about these allegations. What is the ethical standard? Porter says I didn’t do this. I was never convicted of these things; there is some legal action that was taken by the women involved, his two ex-wives. What is the standard for you here?
SHAUB: Well, you know, the standard provided in the actual standards of conduct for employees is that you’re supposed to comply with the laws of the land. Certainly beating your wife and then beating your next wife don’t comply with the laws of the land. But we also have the security clearance issue. And we can be sure that security clearance background investigators for the FBI went and spoke with both of these women and so there was never any doubt that this information was in the background report received by Kelly. And of course they had to have known that this was an issue because they weren’t able to assign him to certain things as a result of not having a permanent security clearance and yet we hear that he continued to rise and rise and you’ve got Kelly saying that he believes the man? Well, what does Kelly base that on? He looked deep into the man’s soul and perceived innocence? I doubt Kelly went out and interviewed those women themselves and decided that they were liars. He just decided that the white male employee working for him couldn’t possibly beat his former wives because he said he didn’t. Well, that’s ridiculous and shame on John Kelly.
CUOMO: So you think there is no question that Kelly knew or had reason to know about these allegations?
SHAUB: Absolutely. There’s just no way he couldn’t. I mean, they knew that the man didn’t have a full-time security clearance.
SHAUB: And this is one now as I highlighted in that tweet...
CUOMO: Well, you’re assuming that’s why he didn’t have it, Walter, just to make it clear for people? You’re assuming the reason he only had temporary clearance would be because of these allegations?
SHAUB: Well, I have been involved in security clearance cases before and of course had one myself. And these are the types of things that the security clearance investigators look at. And it’s relevant to some of the factors they considered. So it’s possible there were other reasons why he also didn’t get a clearance. But this would certainly be one of them. And I don’t think we have any information suggesting he committed other misdeeds.
CUOMO: And what is your feeling about the ethical standard of conduct being exhibited by the Chief of Staff? Because that’s what your tweet goes to, that you see this as part and parcel of some kind of case that you’re making.
SHAUB: Well, let’s remember that he smeared an African-American Congresswoman, making up a lie about her. He said that the Civil War was the fault of the people who wouldn’t compromise on their radical position of thinking that holding humans in bondage is unacceptable and isn’t susceptible of compromise. And he called dreamers lazy people, tapping into other dog whistles of a racial nature and so I think that we’ve got a pattern here that there’s a lot of people he doesn’t believe and trust because they look a certain way. And then he’s ready immediately, without conducting any independent investigation, because I don’t know how he could have, to believe somebody who looks the right way. So I think we’ve got a very disturbing pattern with the man who is really running the White House on a day-to-day basis and is the personal gatekeeper to the President. I don’t know how much lower he could possibly sink. This is an absolute failure of any kind of ethics. And to the extent that there is an ethical standard that says people comply with the law, have to comply with the law, he certainly fell below that in covering for this individual and defending him, and continuing to push him higher and higher in the power structure of the White House.