One week into a scandal involving a now-former staffer who is accused of abusing his two ex-wives, President Donald Trump finally condemned such actions on Wednesday.
“I am totally opposed to domestic violence, everybody here knows that,” the president told reporters. “I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. ... It almost wouldn’t even have to be said.”
Rob Porter was forced out of the White House last week after reports he punched, kicked and otherwise abused his two former spouses. The White House admittedly bungled its response, and Trump — himself accused of sexual assault — was silent on domestic violence until Wednesday.
The scandal has rocked the West Wing, with reports of fighting among staffers. Chief of Staff John Kelly is facing calls for his resignation after he initially defended Porter — then kept it up for over a day.
The White House and FBI have offered conflicting descriptions about the status of the former staff secretary’s security clearance. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday a White House security office had not yet closed a background investigation case. But FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom Trump nominated, told lawmakers his agency had closed its background probe related to Porter’s security clearance application.
Earlier Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said White House aides should have handled their response better. But that does not mean he thinks Kelly should step down or be fired.
“John Kelly has done a remarkable job as chief of staff for the president of the United States,” Pence said Wednesday. “And I look forward to continuing to work with him for many, many months to come.”