President Donald Trump said he hopes a senior aide who has resigned amid allegations he beat two former wives has “a great career ahead of him”.
Rob Porter left the White House after the allegations – including a photograph of his first wife, Cobie Holderness, sporting a black eye – came to light.
But on Friday the US president chose not to express any sympathy for the two women, instead praising Mr Porter’s work as the White House’s staff secretary.
“We wish him well. He worked very hard, no doubt about it,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval office.
“He did a good job while he was in the White House. Hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”
The president added: “As you probably know he says he is innocent …I think you have to remember that”.
Mr Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, has also faced questions over his staunch defence of Mr Porter amid reports that some senior officials knew of the accusations for a year.
The episode has been seized on by critics who say the administration is failing to properly vet staff and is shot through with a macho culture that does not protect women.
Democrats and women’s groups are demanding the resignation of Mr Kelly, a retired Marine general who was brought in last year to control the spread of chaos in an ill-disciplined White House.
Toni Van Pelt, head of the National Organisation for Women, said: “His pathetic defence of staff secretary Rob Porter reveals his true nature — an enabler of sexual abusers, a betrayer of trust and an avoider of responsibility.”
Mr Porter offered his resignation just one day after Mr Kelly publicly defended him in a statement saying: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honour and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
He was forced to change tack after the Daily Mail published a photograph showing Cobie Holderness, Mr Porter’s first wife, with a black eye.
Mr Kelly said he was “shocked” and that there was no place for domestic violence in society but added: “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”
Earlier this week, Jennifer Willoughby, Mr Porter’s second wife, described how she filed a restraining order against her husband in 2010 after he punched the glass on a door and refused to leave her home. She said the abuse started on their honeymoon and he once dragged her out of the shower.
Further muddying the fallout for the White House were reports that Mr Porter was dating Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and a key Trump confidant.
The result is fresh questions about Mr Kelly’s ability to impose order and whether the loyalty of a military man is the right fit for a job that needs political antennae finely attuned to risk of scandal.
“I get the idea of dying for the man next to you but that doesn’t get you far in politics,” said a senior Republican strategist.
Democrats swiftly called for an investigation into Mr Porter’s presence at the White House.
“If John Kelly is covering this up, he needs to be held accountable,” Jon Tester, a senator for Montana. “He better have a really good reason. Otherwise, he’s gone, too.”
For his part, Mr Porter has denied any wrongdoing.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false,2 he said in a statement issued in the wake of his resignation.
“I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a co-ordinated smear campaign.”
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/09/white-house-chief-staff-john-kelly-pressure-handling-abuse-claims/