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WH: Trump 'saddened' by Rob Porter reports

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah says President Trump was "saddened" by the reports of spousal abuse by former staff secretary Rob Porter.

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 6:56 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 7:14 AM

Raj Shah didn't have an easy job on Thursday.

The deputy White House press secretary had to hold his first press briefing following the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter over domestic abuse allegations.

But even by those lowered standards, it didn't go well. At all.

Before I get into why, let me praise Shah. "I think it's fair to say we all could have done better dealing with this over the last few days," he acknowledged regarding the White House response to the Porter situation. Amen. A little candor goes a long way. And, reminder: He was in an impossible situation.

Now on to the less good -- in no particular order:

1. Shah said that Porter had been "terminated" on Wednesday.

But that's not at all what happened! Porter offered his resignation -- and it was accepted. Of course, that came after White House chief of staff John Kelly repeatedly urged Porter to stay on even after it became very, very clear the seriousness of the allegations against the staff secretary.

2. Shah tried to argue that because Porter hadn't allegedly hit any of the women during his time in the White House, it was more an issue for the background check people to deal with.

"The allegations made against Rob Porter, as we understand them, involve incidents long before he joined the White House," said Shah. "Therefore they are best evaluated through the background check process."

WHAAAAAAT?!?

President Donald Trump famously promised he would bring the "best" people with him to Washington. Being the best people doesn't start when you formally begin working in the White House. It is the job of the White House to ensure that the people working in the building -- especially one with such direct access to the President -- meet a certain standard of conduct. And have met a certain standard of conduct.

3. In explaining the radical difference between Kelly's hugely supportive statement of Porter on Tuesday night and his less supportive one on Wednesday, Shah said the chief of staff became "fully" aware of the allegations.

But according to CNN's reporting, Kelly had known for months about the allegations. The ONLY thing that changed was that a picture of one of Porter's ex-wives with a massive black eye went public. Which raises the question: Did Kelly only change his total defense of Porter when the picture made clear it couldn't be effectively sustained?

4. Shah painted Kelly as totally unaware that the FBI had been told by both of Porter's ex-wives that he had abused them.

How is that possible? Did he simply not think to ask? Why not -- especially given that Porter still didn't have a security clearance after more than a year in the White House? And double why not -- because Porter was interacting so closely with Trump day in and day out?

5. Shah said that communications director Hope Hicks, who has been dating Porter, had "recused" herself from some conversations about the situation.

But, we know -- again thanks to CNN reporting -- that Hicks was one of a handful of people involved in the crafting of Kelly's first -- and hugely supportive -- statement on Porter. That no one stepped in and told Hicks she simply shouldn't (and couldn't) be involved boggles my mind.

6. This line: "I think you have got to take allegations seriously, you have got to take denials seriously."

Here's the thing: BOTH of Porter's ex-wives told the FBI that he had abused them. Both women had their stories confirmed by people with whom they shared the details contemporaneously. And a third woman who had dated Porter contacted his two ex-wives in 2016 detailing further abuse. Also, the picture. The black eye. The total lack of an explanation by Porter. (He has denied the black eye picture came about as the result of any abuse. But he has offered zero explanation for why it did happen.)

At some point, the number of allegations, the depth of details and the similarities between the women make this more than a "he said-she said" conversation. And that point was a while ago when the two women talked to the FBI.

The Point: Holy cow. Not good. The whole thing left more questions than answers. And the press shouldn't stop asking them.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749532

Reported Deaths: 13746
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030911775
Lake554681006
Allen41636691
St. Joseph36947564
Hamilton36527416
Elkhart29363459
Tippecanoe22862225
Vanderburgh22542400
Porter19331325
Johnson18405388
Hendricks17588317
Clark13200193
Madison13120344
Vigo12604253
LaPorte12394221
Monroe12163175
Delaware10947198
Howard10263225
Kosciusko9614119
Hancock8549144
Bartholomew8162157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7772180
Grant7229179
Wayne7155201
Boone6917103
Morgan6736141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6206116
Cass5991108
Henry5894108
Dearborn588978
Noble580186
Jackson508674
Shelby500897
Lawrence4732121
Gibson444093
Harrison440773
Clinton440055
DeKalb438785
Montgomery434690
Whitley406042
Huntington402281
Steuben399259
Miami392768
Jasper386954
Knox375790
Putnam372160
Wabash360583
Ripley346570
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White330253
Daviess3031100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284864
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269955
Clay265848
Washington244934
Randolph244683
Jennings235149
Spencer234231
Starke227558
Fountain218647
Sullivan213943
Owen211058
Fulton201542
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175726
Vermillion173644
Franklin170235
Tipton165846
Parke149016
Pike138034
Blackford136132
Pulaski120247
Newton112736
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton101014
Martin91515
Warren83615
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107225

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1285061459
Cuyahoga1156322204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524951040
Summit48356999
Lucas43309817
Butler38903603
Stark33297929
Lorain25641502
Warren24558303
Mahoning22332601
Lake21139385
Clermont20098252
Delaware18819135
Licking16649222
Fairfield16564204
Trumbull16527479
Medina15597270
Greene15256246
Clark14223306
Wood13281197
Portage13229214
Allen11903239
Richland11598211
Miami10837223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9023230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8652122
Tuscarawas8639247
Marion8635138
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7139179
Hancock6996131
Ross6934161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6530104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5723102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5437125
Darke5415129
Seneca5344126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501687
Mercer487285
Shelby476295
Knox4568112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4334103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387377
Preble3847103
Clinton378566
Ottawa372781
Highland359465
Williams347878
Champaign343858
Guernsey324253
Jackson317554
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285350
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268459
Van Wert247264
Adams242956
Pike242735
Gallia240550
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196948
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113738
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
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