With the White House facing questions about its handling of an ex-aide accused of spousal abuse, Donald Trump said he was “totally opposed to domestic violence”.
“I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” Mr Trump told reporters. “Everyone knows that and it almost wouldn’t even have to be said”.
The President’s comments came as the administration continues to grapple with the fallout from former staff secretary Rob Porter resigning. Two ex-wives publicly accused Mr Porter of abuse, claims he has denounced as “vile” and “false”.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress this week that the agency had investigated Mr Porter’s background check and repeatedly shared its findings with the White House, contradicting the administration’s timeline of events and intensifying questions about whether administration officials kept Mr Porter on after becoming aware of the accusations against him.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in particular has faced criticism, with some members of Congress saying Mr Kelly should step aside if he knew of the accusations against Mr Porter and did not act. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated this week that the White House believes Mr Kelly did not know about the accusations until they were reported in the media and said Mr Trump “has confidence in his Chief of Staff”.
The House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into the White House’s security clearance process, sending Mr Kelly a letter that asks for more information on when “any White House employee became aware of potential derogatory or disqualifying information” on Mr Porter.
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In his initial comments on the situation, Mr Trump expressed sympathy for Mr Porter and noted that the aide had said he was innocent.
“He did a very good job when he was in the White House,” Mr Trump told reporters last week. “And we hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him”.
Numerous women have accused Mr Trump of unwanted sexual advances. The President has rejected those accounts as false and the White House has claimed the President’s accusers were lying. A tape that emerged during the 2016 presidential campaign featured Mr Trump boasting about making unsolicited advances on women.