Biden on Trump aide Rob Porter: 'It's long past due that he left'

Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized the White House Thursday for allowing a top aide to President Donald Trump to stay on despite apparent knowledge of his alleged history of domestic abuse.

That aide, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, resigned Wednesday after the allegations became public.

"I can’t explain it. It's long past due that he left," Biden told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell when asked about Porter's access to the president and to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

"I understand that he departed — if you just look at it from a perspective of one thing, the FBI didn't think he should get a security clearance," Biden said, commenting on reports that senior White House officials, including Kelly, were aware of the accusations against Porter, and that the FBI had not issued Porter a permanent top security clearance.

"I'm having enormous difficulty understanding how this White House functions," Biden added, calling the administration "controlled chaos."

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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter arrives with U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. February 5, 2018. Picture taken February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Porter's two ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, told DailyMail.com in a report published Tuesday that Porter was physically and verbally abusive during their marriages.

Willoughby and Holderness each confirmed the accounts of their allegations to NBC News on Wednesday. In a statement announcing his departure, Porter denied the accusations, saying, "These outrageous allegations are simply false."

Porter could depart the White House as early as Thursday, a White House official told NBC News, despite Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying Wednesday that Porter would remain on to ensure a smooth transition.

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Rob Porter in his White House role
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Rob Porter in his White House role
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter watches as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with North Korean defectors in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, Feb. 02, 2018. President Donald Trump talked to reporters and members of the media about the release of a secret memo on the F.B.I.'s role in the Russia inquiry. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (C) says hello to reporters as he and White House advisors Sebastian Gorka (from L), Omarosa Manigault and Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci accompany President Trump for an event celebrating veterans at AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers, Ohio, U.S., July 25, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "The most visible person in any White House is naturally the President, followed by the press secretary. But there are also the staff who support them, any one of whom might suddenly jump into public view and be national news for a day or two. For those of us covering the President Trump administration, there seem to be more compelling figures in the West Wing than ever before. It's crucial to know who's who and why they're important. When I raised my camera and back-pedalled ahead of the group to take this image Lewandowski gave me a hello and pointed right into the lens. I liked the photo, but had no idea it would go a little bit viral, especially since Scaramucci, who was the biggest mover and shaker that week, was hidden back in the pack. But I guess the image catches a glimpse of what it's like to be a West Wing staffer on the road."REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File photo SEARCH "POY STORY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 01: Rob Porter, right, White House staff secretary, and Don McGahn, White House counsel, attend a luncheon featuring a speech by President Donald Trump at the House and Senate Republican retreat at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on February 1, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor for policy, right, talks to Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. In a speech to congressional Republicans at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia today, Trump recognized the party's leadership and then riffed on his election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: White House chief of staff John Kelly, (L), walks with staff secretary Rob Porter, (C), and White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, before boarding Marine One to depart from the White House with President Donald Trump, on February 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) and Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller (C) return to the White House after a day trip with President Donald Trump to Cincinnati, Ohio, February 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. While in Ohio President Trump delivered remarks after touring cylinder manufacturer Sheffer Corporation while the first lady Melania Trump visited patients and their families at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, right, Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor for policy, left, and Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, walk toward the White House after arriving on Marine One with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Trump today threw a wrench into negotiations over a shutdown-avoiding spending bill by saying he didn't want a provision funding children's health insurance in the short-term measure. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) arrives aboard Air Force One with fellow senior staff and U.S. President Donald Trump for a summer vacation at his Bedminster estate, at Morristown Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. August 4, 2017. Picture taken August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn (R) talks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) as they arrive with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One at Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Biden said he believed the White House must have known that the FBI had reportedly flagged Porter's security clearance because of the past spousal abuse allegations.

"Sure they knew ... look, the culture's changing, thank God, but not fast enough," Biden said, referring to the watershed #MeToo movement, which has seen women come forward to detail their experiences of sexual assault and harassment.

"The idea that this would happen in the Oval Office — now, I don't know — I was briefed on the way in that when the president found out about it he said 'go,' and if that’s the case, if the president never knew about it, then good for the president," Biden said.

Biden, speaking to NBC News at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, also weighed in on whether Trump should sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the government probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, which includes examining any links between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Trump has signaled that he is eager to sit down with Mueller under oath, although a later report indicated that his lawyers advised against an interview.

Biden said that, as a lawyer, he would not advise Trump to agree to speak with Mueller because "he does not tell the truth, he is not accurate in much of what he says." On the other hand, Biden said, the president has a responsibility to meet with Mueller.

"A president should be prepared to answer the questions about one of the most serious security breaches that's occurred in American history, Russia attempting to affect and impact on the American electoral process," Biden said.

And as for speculation that he might run for president himself in 2020, Biden said, "I have plenty of time to consider whether or not to run ... we have really qualified people out there."

"My calculation has never been 'Who's running, can I win, can I not win,' it's, 'Is this right for me to do?'" Biden added. "And the only thing that's right for me to do now is to try to stop this enormous erosion of the moral fabric that's at the hands of Donald Trump and the Republicans."

 

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