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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: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
Unassigned08
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