The Latest: Trump explicitly denounces domestic violence
Feb. 15, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the White House's handling of the allegations about former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned last week (all times local):
President Donald Trump has at last broken his silence to explicitly denounce domestic violence in the wake of allegations that a top White House aide had abused two former wives.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he is "totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind."
He says, "Everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn't even have to be said."
Chief of staff John Kelly, under fire for mishandling the matter, is staying largely out of sight. West Wing aides have had their faith in Kelly shaken, and morale has plunged.
Trump has complained to confidants that Kelly let the scandal spin out of control, according to one person familiar with the discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
President Donald Trump is breaking his silence after defending former aide Rob Porter, who was accused by his ex-wives of domestic abuse.
Trump says: "I am totally opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that."
"It almost wouldn't even have to be said," he adds. "So now you hear it, but you all know it."
Trump had praised Porter, the former staff secretary, Friday, and on Saturday appeared to cast doubt on the allegations on Twitter when he tweeted: "Peoples (sic) lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation."
The White House's handling of the Porter situation has ensnared senior West Wing officials, calling into question the decision-making and candor of chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn.
Vice President Mike Pence is offering White House chief of staff John Kelly a vote of confidence, saying the retired Marine general has "done a remarkable job" for President Donald Trump.
Pence is reiterating his earlier comments that the White House could have done a better job of handling the matter of former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned last week following allegations of domestic violence.
The vice president says in an interview with Axios that he and Trump look forward to continuing to work with Kelly. Pence says there are few Americans or American families who have "served this nation more honorably" or sacrificed more on behalf of the nation than Kelly and his family.
Pence says the Trump administration "has no tolerance for domestic violence."
House Speaker Paul Ryan says the government's vetting of its employees is broken if an accused wife beater is allowed to assume a high-level presidential job.
Ryan was asked Wednesday about whether the White House should condemn domestic violence, which President Donald Trump has refused to do in the wake of allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter.
He told reporters "Come on, clearly we all should be condemning domestic violence." He added that "if a person who commits domestic violence gets in the government then there's a breakdown in the system." Such a breakdown, Ryan said, needs to be "addressed."
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told CNN on Wednesday that the panel is launching an investigation.
Porter has denied the allegations.
The White House and the FBI are at odds again, this time over a background investigation for a top aide to President Donald Trump who has left the administration after accusations of domestic abuse.
FBI Director Christopher Wray says the bureau gave the Trump administration information on multiple occasions last year regarding Rob Porter, who has been accused of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives.
The White House has asserted that Porter's background investigation was ongoing and that officials first learned the extent of accusations against him only last week, just before Porter abruptly resigned.
The scandal has already called into question the judgment of senior members of the White House staff. It's also put new stress on the administration's already strained credibility with the public.