White House Walks Back Handling of Abuse Allegations

'We all could have done better'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2018 4:48 PM CST
White House Walks Back Handling of Abuse Allegations
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The White House apologized for its handling of Rob Porter in the wake of domestic violence allegations against him from two ex-wives—though it did little else to clear up the situation around the former staff secretary. "I think it’s fair to say we all could have done better over the last few hours—or the last few days—in dealing with this situation," the Washington Post quotes Raj Shah as saying during a press conference Thursday. The White House spokesperson said neither President Trump nor chief of staff John Kelly knew the "full nature" of the accusations against Porter until Wednesday, USA Today reports. According to the BBC, Shah says Trump "was surprised by it. He was disheartened by it. He was saddened by it." Meanwhile, one Republican source tells Vanity Fair the president "was f---ing pissed" that Kelly hadn't explained the allegations against Porter to him.

Shah remained vague about who in the White House knew about the allegations and when they knew about them. He noted Porter was on a temporary security clearance while a background investigation "was ongoing," so someone in the administration at least was aware of the allegations. But Shah wouldn't say why Porter was allowed to keep his position in the White House in the face of that. "We trust the background check process," he said. Shah said the White House was at first prepared to defend Porter against the allegations "based upon our experiences with him," but Kelly, in particular, changed his mind after seeing a photo of one of Porter's ex-wives with a black eye. Porter left the White House on Thursday despite earlier saying he would stay on until a successor was named. (Read more domestic violence stories.)

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