- Vice President Mike Pence said he was “appalled” by abuse allegations against Rob Porter in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on Thursday.
- “There’s no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse,” he said.
- The vice president’s response diverged from that of President Donald Trump, who on Friday praised Porter’s work and wished him “well.”
Vice President Mike Pence said he was “appalled” by allegations that Rob Porter, a former top White House aide, abused his ex-wives.
“I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter,” Pence said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on Thursday, in South Korea, where he is leading the US delegation at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. “There’s no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse.”
Pence’s response diverged from that of President Donald Trump, who on Friday praised Porter’s work and wished him “well” after noting that he was “surprised” by the allegations.
Pence did not directly answer Holt’s question about whether he was concerned that chief of staff John Kelly had reportedly been aware of some of the allegations against Porter since last fall. Porter, who served a the highest levels of the Trump White House, resigned as White House staff secretary on Wednesday amid the allegations.
“I think the White House has acknowledged that they could have handled it better,” Pence said, referring to White House spokesman Raj Shah’s comment that administration officials “could have done better” in dealing with the allegations.
Pence said he would “look into the matter” when he returns to Washington and will talk with the president about the issue.
“I’ll share my counsel with the president directly,” he said.
Trump told reporters on Friday that he hopes Porter has a “wonderful career.”
“We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him,” Trump said. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career.”
Colbie Holderness, who was married to Porter from 2003 to 2008, has provided photos to the FBI and news outlets of a black eye she says he gave her. Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s wife from 2009 to 2013, provided a copy of a 2010 protective order she filed against him.
Porter has denied the allegations – something the president pointed to in his remarks.
“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.”
The president did not mention the two women who have accused Porter of abuse.
Reports emerged Thursday that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, had known for more than a year that Porter faced allegations of abuse but did not investigate them while Porter continued to serve at the highest levels of the White House.
On Wednesday, after multiple news outlets had detailed Holderness and Willoughby’s allegations, the White House stood by Porter. The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said the president and the chief of staff, John Kelly, had “full confidence and trust” in him.
Kelly released a statement calling Porter “a man of true integrity and honour.” The news website Axios reported that he pressed Porter to stay on in his role.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly said. “He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
Later on Wednesday, Kelly released another statement saying he was “shocked by the new allegations” against Porter, pointing to Holderness’ photos.
Watch the interview clip below:
EXCLUSIVE: Vice President Mike Pence tells @LesterHoltNBC that the White House has "no tolerance" for domestic abuse.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) February 9, 2018
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