Controversy over former aide accused of abuse roils White House

Violet Powell
February 12, 2018

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gave staffers in a Friday meeting a revised account of his response to allegations that former staff secretary Rob Porter physically and emotionally abused two ex-wives, according to a Washington Post report.

"People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation", Trump tweeted. Some are old and some are new. "There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone", Trump tweeted. The revelation has roiled the White House, raising questions about the vetting process and how long Trump's top advisers knew about the allegations.

He was filling in the shoes of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who is away on a vacation. "He's had a number of controversies recently". He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.

Ivana Trump has since retracted her allegations and said in a statement for a 1993 book that while she had referred to the incident as a "rape", she did not want her words "to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense".

It has been widely reported that Kelly had always been aware that there were abuse allegations against Porter. "It should be able to focus on continuing President Trump's historic accomplishments for the American people".

Even after the allegations surfaced publicly, sources told CNN that Kelly did not urge Porter to resign or seek to force him out.

On Saturday, Trump seemingly doubled down on his defense of Porter, speaking out in favor of those accused of abuse and sexual misconduct more generally.

'Donald Trump - Misogynist-in-Chief - defends the accused, not the accuser.

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Porter's two ex-wives claimed in an interview with CNN's MJ Lee that they experienced years of abuse from Porter, including incidents of physical violence, and said they detailed the allegations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the agency conducted a routine background check into Porter.

Trump responded to Porter's resignation on Friday by telling reporters in the Oval Office that Porter maintained his innocence.

Kelly learned of the allegations against Porter after looking into the status of his security clearance last fall.

The mounting days of bad press about the handling of Porter - who knew what and when, and the problem with his security clearance - are just the latest in a series of instances of Kelly drawing the wrong kind of attention.

A GQ magazine profile in June 2016 described her: "She is a hugger and a people pleaser, with long brown hair and green eyes, a young woman of distinctly all-American flavor - the sort that inspires Tom Petty songs, not riots". But several aides, including Conway, delivered ringing support for Hicks and said that the president still valued her.

Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, has come out relatively untainted as President Donald Trump's administration continues dealing with the abrupt exit of two key aides accused of domestic abuse.

Pence said in an interview in South Korea that he was "appalled" by the allegations and that he would look into the matter when he got back to Washington. "Is there any other crime - and it's a crime -where there would be an explanation that the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something?"

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