“We wish him well; he worked very hard,” Trump said to a small group of reporters at the White House, providing his first public comments on the topic. “We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”
In interviews with The Washington Post and other media outlets, Porter’s ex-wives have accused him of physically and emotionally abusing them during their marriages. Both said that they informed the FBI in January 2017 of their allegations while they were being interviewed by agents as part of Porter’s security clearance review.
EXCLUSIVE: ‘He pulled me, naked and dripping from the shower to yell at me.’ Ex-wife of Trump aide Rob Porter who’s …
Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, has accused him of throwing her down and punching her in the face during a trip to Florence in 2005 and provided photos showing her with a black eye. Porter’s second wife, Jennie Willoughby, received a temporary emergency protective order in Arlington, Va., in June 2010 after saying Porter refused to leave her residence, in violation of their separation agreement. She said he broke her window, causing his knuckles to bleed. Porter has denied these accusations and disputed Holderness’s account of how she received a black eye.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter said in a statement. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”
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Trump’s comments on Friday echo the strong support Porter received from the White House this week. When the allegations were first reported by the DailyMail.com on Tuesday, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly came to Porter’s defense and called the allegations “slanderous and simply false.”
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“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly said in a statement at the time. “He is a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
Kelly urged Porter to stay in his job, even after photos became public on Wednesday showing his first wife’s blackened eye. On Wednesday night, after Porter had resigned, Kelly issued a statement condemning Porter’s alleged abuses and stated that “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
This is not the first time that the president has continued to embrace men close to him who have been accused of assault. In July 2016, Trump called his longtime friend Roger Ailes — who had just been ousted from Fox News amid accusations that he sexually harassed at least two-dozen women — “a very, very good person” and cast suspicion on the accusers. In April last year, Trump said that Bill O’Reilly — who, it had recently been revealed, paid millions of dollars in settlements to five women who had accused him of sexual or verbal abuse — “a good person” who should not have settled, because “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Late last year, Trump continued to support Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — who was accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers — and noted that Moore “totally denies it.”
And Trump himself has been accused of abuse by 13 women who have publicly claimed that Trump touched or kissed them without their permission. Trump has denied all of these accusations and cast all of his accusers as liars. In a 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview caught on a hot microphone, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
US President Donald Trump has paid tribute to an ex-aide who quit this week amid domestic abuse allegations.
“We wish him well,” he said in his first public remarks on the claims against ex-White House staff secretary Rob Porter. “He worked very hard.”
His comments come a day after a White House spokesman said they could have better handled the accusations.
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It is alleged Mr Porter, 40, gave one ex-wife a black eye while another filed a restraining order. He denies it.
Despite the allegations, he received interim security clearance to act as gatekeeper to the US president. Mr Porter resigned on Wednesday.
Speaking in the Oval Office on Friday, Mr Trump said: “We found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well and it’s a tough time for him.
And Paul wasn’t completely alone as he railed against spending and deficits on the Senate floor. His closest friends from the House, Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump’s nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (R-Mich.) and Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse Republicans’ bill would redirect Pakistan aid money to US infrastructure House stays in DC despite threats from GOP leaders Live coverage: Federal government on brink of shutdown MORE (R-Ky.), crossed the Capitol and sat in the back of the Senate chamber to offer Paul moral support.
But US Vice-President Mike Pence condemned Mr Porter, saying he was “appalled” by his alleged behaviour.
Mr Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, both accuse him of physical and emotional abuse.
His first spouse, US government analyst Ms Holderness, said he had kicked her on their 2003 honeymoon in the Canary Islands and punched her in the face on holiday a couple of years later in Florence, Italy.
Ms Willoughby says she was married to Mr Porter from 2009-13. The motivational speaker says she obtained a protective order against him in June 2010 after he punched the glass of the door at their Alexandria, Virginia, home.
A third woman who says she was Mr Porter’s girlfriend contacted his ex-wives in 2016 with allegations of “repeated abuse”, according to CNN.
And Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentSupreme Court denies GOP request to block Pennsylvania gerrymandering decision Dent likens GOP to ‘a dysfunctional family’ on tackling difficult issues GOP lawmaker: Trump should have hit Russia harder in speech MORE (R-Pa.) told Politico it was “easy to understand why it’s difficult to be Rand Paul’s next-door neighbor.” Last year, Paul broke several ribs after being allegedly attacked by his next-door neighbor over a landscaping dispute.
The unnamed woman was reportedly seeking advice on how to leave Mr Porter, but said she was afraid of him.
Mr Kelly initially called Mr Porter “a man of true integrity and honour” after the Daily Mail reported the ex-wives’ allegations on Tuesday.
He then released a new statement saying he was shocked by the claims and stressed domestic violence was unacceptable.
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White House communications director Hope Hicks’ handling of the controversy has reportedly displeased Mr Trump.
The 29-year-old aide has recently been in a relationship with Mr Porter, a Harvard graduate and former Oxford Rhodes Scholar.
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Mr Trump was reportedly not consulted when Ms Hicks helped draft an initial statement defending Mr Porter.
According to CBS News, Mr Porter approached White House Counsel Don McGahn in January 2017 to inform him his ex-wives might say unflattering things about him to background check investigators.
In June 2017, Mr Porter’s preliminary file was sent from the FBI to the White House security office, containing the abuse allegations.
In November, Mr McGahn received a call from an ex-girlfriend of Mr Porter alleging physical violence by the aide.
Mr McGahn told the White House chief of staff there was an issue with Mr Porter’s security clearance, although he was vague, reports CBS.
A White House spokesman said on Thursday that Mr Kelly did not realise the extent of the claims until a photo of Ms Holderness’ black eye emerged on Wednesday.
The White House only took the Rob Porter situation seriously once photographs emerged. Two women’s stories and a restraining order weren’t enough?