October 22, 2018

White House scrambles to contain Porter fallout

10 February 2018, 01:37 | Max Haynes

"I think it's fair to say we all could have done better dealing with this over the last few days", Shah said.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Chief of Staff John Kelly at first defended Porter. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional.

A senior White House official said the photos circulating of one of Porter's ex-wives with a bruised eye came after the initial statements were drafted.

One wife of the official has even produced pictures of her blackened eye alleging that it was a result of physical abuse that she suffered at the hands of Rob Porter.

Shah called the allegations "serious and disturbing", but also said that Porter had denied any wrongdoing.

Hicks, who is rumored to be dating Porter, recused herself from "some matters" related to the scandal, according to Shah. "Those statements reflected the Rob Porter we knew". Porter has denied their allegations.

Kelly's memo comes after Rob Porter announced plans to resign amid allegations that he verbally and physically abused his two ex-wives.

Porter's defenders say Kelly didn't know the full details because Porter's background check was never completed.

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The White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has come under fire as she emerges at the center of a pair of major news stories - the kinds she had eluded in her almost three years at the top levels of President Donald Trump's orbit.

The White House has come under fire for releasing statements praising Porter's character before the allegations came out.

Senior staff at the White House apply for five-year clearances, and the process can be lengthy - some current officials are still waiting, aides said.

Despite his resignation, Porter hit back at the accusations. Several news agencies have reported that he is now romantically linked with another close Trump family friend, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

"I did talk to the president earlier today and he said he was saddened by the reports", Shah said-"by the information he saw, and by the images he saw".

"He was surprised. He, like many us, did not see that in Rob Porter", Shah said.

"I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign", he added. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and, during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

In the emotional interview on Thursday night, Willoughby also said her ex-husband asked her to "downplay" her account in an April 2017 blog post titled "Why I stayed".

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