Sen. Jeff Flake criticizes the White House and John Kelly on their handling of the Rob Porter abuse scandal

Key Points
  • Sen. Jeff Flake tells CNBC's John Harwood he thinks the White House poorly handled the scandal over former top aide Rob Porter.
  • The Republican lawmaker stops short of saying President Trump needs to replace chief of staff John Kelly, but says Trump was not "well served on this issue."
Flake: Porter scandal doesn’t mean Trump has to fire John Kelly

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., sat down to talk to CNBC's John Harwood on an array of issues. Here, the retiring conservative lawmaker discusses how the White House, specifically chief of staff John Kelly, handled the Rob Porter domestic abuse scandal.

JOHN HARWOOD: What do you conclude from the Rob Porter situation about the competence and character of this White House?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE: Well, I think it was handled extremely poorly. Some of them have admitted that — others, not so much. But it was handled poorly. And there's a problem long term if we have dozens of people acting on interim security clearances, viewing classified material, handling classified material and getting those briefings. It's not a good situation. I've already written to the administration, asking for answers on a few things.

HARWOOD: Do you think the president needs a new chief of staff?

FLAKE: That's his choice to make.

HARWOOD: But what's your view?

FLAKE: I don't think he was well served on this issue. On other issues, he's been better served. I've had disagreements with the chief of staff.

HARWOOD: So do you think this is something he could get past and be effective?

FLAKE: I don't know. We'll see, but probably. I mean, this is a tough job. Anybody who has a chief of staff job in this White House has got his work cut out for him, or her work cut out for her.