- Counselor to President Donald Trump Kellyanne Conway said she supported staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation amid allegations of domestic abused against his ex-wives.
- She also supported Trump’s call for “due process” in sexual misconduct cases.
- Conway also said she believed his ex-wives’ accounts, and said there was no way anyone in the White House would have previously believed that Porter was an abuser.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, made the rounds on the Sunday political shows to denounce domestic violence, and defend the White House’s jumbled response to White House staff secretary Rob Porter‘s ouster.
Porter resigned on Wednesday after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic physical and verbal abuse.
Conway engaged in a calm yet contentious back-and-forth with host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, then appeared on ABC’s “This Week.”
She said she was “horrified” when she first heard the allegations against Porter.
“We as individuals have a duty to assess everybody on a case-by-case basis,” Conway said, “and in this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury, you have police reports, you have photographs. And when you look at that pulled together, you realise that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.”
She told Tapper she believed Porter’s ex-wives’ accounts.
“I have no reason not to believe the women,” Conway said, “and a week ago I had no reason to believe that that had ever happened.”
She also defended Trump’s tweet from Saturday, and framed the media reaction to abuse allegations as a “smear campaign.”
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump tweeted. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Many seized on the tweet as another instance of Trump defending men accused of sexual misconduct and violence, citing Senate candidate Roy Moore and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly as past examples.
Conway pointed out that Trump didn’t mention the #MeToo movement or Porter’s name in the tweet, and said he was referring to allegations in general.
“What the president is pointing out is that, all the while – and Sarah said this from the podium too, read a statement from Rob Porter – that he is denying these ‘vile allegations,’ but that he doesn’t want to further engage in this orchestrated public smear campaign,” she said.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump said he wished Porter well because he had “worked very hard.”
“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent. So you’ll have to talk to him about that.”
When Tapper asked her if Trump believed the women who accused Porter, Conway skirted around the question.
“The president is very disturbed by what he sees, absolutely,” she said. “You can feel that somebody did a great job for you; you can talk about somebody’s competence and work product and the person you worked with and you knew – and that’s what the president did in his statement Friday – and you can feel horrified when you see pictures and contemporaneous reports.”
One of Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness backed up her claims with a photo of a black eye she said Porter gave her.
Jumbled White House response
Chief of staff John Kelly, and others in the White House, have come under fire for their handling of the Porter case and for reportedly knowing about elements of the allegations against him in the months before his resignation.
Many, including Trump ally and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, are demanding details on what Kelly knew when.
Kelly, who had worked closely with Porter for several months, at first issued a statement supporting Porter as a man of “true integrity.”
Then he issued a second statement speaking out against domestic abuse in general without specifically condemning Porter himself.
“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter,” Kelly said. “There is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
The blowback to Kelly’s differing statements prompted Kelly to offer Trump his resignation on Friday, multiple media outlets reported.
Conway said in her appearances that Trump wasn’t considering replacements for Kelly, and that his job was safe.
Watch clips of the interviews below:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 11, 2018
Kellyanne Conway says she was "horrified" and "very shocked" by the allegations against former WH staff secretary Rob Porter: "Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning" #CNNSOTU https://t.co/gw2IetN1JI
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 11, 2018
Does Pres. Trump believe Rob Porter was falsely accused of domestic abuse? White House Counselor to the President @KellyannePolls says he believes "you have to consider all sides. He has said this in the past about incidents that relate to him as well." #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/kPZSf88SJl
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 11, 2018