The high-ranking official in question, Rob Porter, was the White House staff secretary until Wednesday, when information from his two former females came to light, accusing him of mistreating them physically and psychologically. White House spokesman Raj Shah admitted Thursday that the administration "could have done better" in responding to the accusations about Porter's past behavior. He was operating on an interim security clearance.
"Let me just say categorically - I can deny and refute everything that he says in his email with respect to - I was never aware of background issues with Rob".
"The allegations against Rob Porter are serious and deeply troubling", Shah said.
Both of Porter's ex-wives have said they detailed their allegations to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in January as part of the security clearance review.
Trump didn't know about Porter's history with the two ex-wives before Tuesday, when the DailyMail.com approached the White House with details of an interview with one of the women, two White House officials said. He and other Democratic leaders have asked the administration to explain the status of Kushner's clearance given reported omissions on his security clearance questionnaire. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.
Kelly issued a statement Wednesday calling Porter "a man of true integrity and honor".
The chief of staff added that the decision was made before photos of one of Porter's ex-wives with a black eye were published. But Kelly has leaned heavily on Porter since becoming chief of staff in July and considers Porter a close and trusted confidant, they said.
Porter could leave the White House as early as Thursday.
Vice President Pence, traveling in Japan en route to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, declined to discuss the Porter predicament. But you'd think they might still have some concern for Hope Hicks, the White House communications director with whom Porter's now involved, and who helped craft a statement in his defense when the story was first breaking.
Ed Henry reports on the White House chief of staff's message and Sen. We saw it with the upwards of a dozen women who say Trump harassed them, or worse. Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser. The White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, would not say what sort of clearance he has. Porter had been operating on a temporary clearance, Shah confirmed Thursday.
On Wednesday, "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff predicted that "Hicks becomes the John Dean of the Trump White House", an allusion to the Nixon counsel who helped reveal the 1970s Watergate cover-up. He characterized the departure as a resignation, however, rather than a firing. As an assistant to the president, Porter was paid the top White House staff salary of $179,000.
He also told CNN that he was shocked to hear about the domestic abuse allegations again Porter.
But right now, Porter's story is key, and not because it's in any way unique for a Trump appointee to lose his or her job.