Trump defends former aide embroiled in abuse scandal: 'He says he's innocent'

  • President Donald Trump said he was “surprised” by allegations of physical and emotional abuse against Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, from Porter’s two ex-wives.
  • He said he wished Porter well and said he hoped Porter has a “wonderful career.”
  • The president did not address the two women accusing Porter of abuse.

President Donald Trump said he was “surprised” by allegations of physical and emotional abuse against Rob Porter, who resigned as White House staff secretary this week, from Porter’s two ex-wives.

“We wish him well,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday. “He worked very hard.”

He added: “We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a tough time for him. 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 news outlets of a black eye she says he gave her, while 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 address 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 Wednesday, Kelly released another statement saying he was “shocked by the new allegations” against Porter, pointing to Holderness’ photos.

Watch Trump’s Friday comments:

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