White House: President Trump has ‘absolute confidence’ in John Kelly

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump still stands by Chief of Staff John Kelly after his handling of abuse allegations against a former aide, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said Sunday.

“He has absolute confidence in Gen. Kelly” Short said on “Meet The Press.”

“Gen. Kelly, in my mind, is an American hero,” Short said, adding that Kelly also did not offer his resignation following criticism of his handling over the departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

Porter left the White House last week after news reports that two of his ex-wives accused him of being physically abusive. He has denied the allegations, calling them “simply false" and part of a “coordinated smear campaign.”

Kelly reportedly indicated he was willing to step down over his handling of the Porter accusations, but he denied to NBC News on Friday that he ever offered that resignation.

“John Kelly knows that he serves at the pleasure of the president,” Short said. “And he will step aside any time the president doesn’t want him to be there. But John Kelly has not offered his resignation. John Kelly is doing an outstanding job.”

RELATED: John Kelly in his White House role

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John Kelly in his White House role
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on his phone in a hallway outside the room where U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers speech at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner look on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks before meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his delegation at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers a statement accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (lower right) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) shows the time to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L) as they attend a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (C) stands in an adjacent cabin as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the press cabin aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington after viewing damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, U.S. September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks to reporters before meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (R) attend Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and U.S. President Donald Trump's news conference after their meetings at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands before a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) arrives with fellow staff to board Air Force One with U.S. President Trump for travel to New Jersey from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks down at his phone as he boards Air Force One in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., hours after it was announced that Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon left the administration August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly looks on as he listens to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (not pictured) delivering a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly arrives to Secretary of Interior Building before addressing the media, in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leans on the Resolute Desk during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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Kelly, a retired military general and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, has served as chief of staff for more than six months. He assumed the position last summer from Reince Priebus, one of a slew high-profile departures from the Trump administration in its first year in office.

While speaking with reporters on Friday, Trump praised Porter, who served in the White House with the president since the inauguration, pointing out that Porter “said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent."

Short said on Sunday morning that Trump's reactions to allegations of misconduct by other men have been influenced by the accusations of misconduct against the president.

“I think the president is shaped by a lot of false accusations against him in the past,” Short said after watching a video montage of Trump questioning other accusations against different prominent men in news and politics like Roy Moore and Roger Ailes.

“But in talking with the president, I think he’s sad about what happened with Rob. I think he’s very disturbed by it and he’s very disappointed in it. I think he thinks the resignation was appropriate,” Short said.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, also on Sunday's "Meet The Press," called admissions from the White House that they could have handled the situation better "a bit of an understatement."

It remains unclear who in the White House knew about the allegations against Porter, who administration officials say was operating with a temporary clearance. Flake said he would like to see the Senate Judiciary Committee review the process of background checks for high-level White House personnel.

Flake added that he is also worried that the president's defenses of men who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past could instill long-term damage on the GOP.

"I do think if you put on a political hat, that is a big problem," Flake said. "Certainly how we are viewed as Republicans in the next election. I think that that is a big problem, and certainly, substantively, it's a big problem, not to show any concern or empathy for the potential victims of these incidents. That is a problem. And that's something I think the president ought to correct." 

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