White House response to abuse claims shines light on victims' fears

12 February, 2018, 01:46 | Author: Tina Rodriquez
  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks in the Oval Office of the White House this month. Washington Post

The White House response to the Rob Porter domestic abuse allegations has been deplorable.

USA president Donald Trump thrust himself into the national debate over sexual misconduct, on Saturday, asserting that "a mere allegation" could destroy the lives of those accused, as his own White House was engulfed by charges of abusive behavior.

Chief of Staff John Kelly was aware of the allegations and also praised Porter's conduct in the White House , maintaining that "every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation". A 28-year-old reporter, Michelle Fields, said she was trying to interview Donald Trump when she got into an altercation with Lewandowski which left her with bruises. Short told "Meet the Press" that Kelly had learned the full extent of the allegations last Tuesday, "and by Wednesday Rob Porter was out".

But Kelly's hold on his post seemed the shakiest since he took the job in July, in part because several West Wing aides have had their faith shaken by his handling of the Porter accusations.

The statement echoed Mr Trump's dismissive response to allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse made over decades against male friends, colleagues and, above all, himself. Conway stressed that Porter "is no longer the staff secretary".

That represents a sharp break with past practice, in which White House counsels undertook elaborate vetting of senior advisers before they were hired - and looked into any serious allegations that surfaced thereafter.




Debby Tucker, president of the board of directors for the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, said women are far more likely to be accused of fabricating stories than men.

White House staff probably could have tried to sell the version of events Kelly told them to - it hinges upon how you define "credible", after all, and is only refuted by anonymously sourced reporting at this point - but the staff are apparently unwilling to go to bat for him and put their own necks on the chopping block.

On Friday evening, the White House announced new posts for 31 officials, including elevating to acting staff secretary Derek Lyons, another Harvard Law School-educated lawyer, who formerly worked on Capitol Hill and had been Porter's No. 2.

The emerging timeline illustrates the degree to which Porter, a clean-cut and ambitious former Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School-educated lawyer, concealed troublesome episodes from his past that would normally be considered disqualifying for a senior White House aide. In his comments, the President did not express sympathy for the alleged victims.

"He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that". Hicks has become one of Trump's closest confidants, and while the president has groused about her involvement in the Porter flareup, he had not suggested ousting her, according to the two people familiar with his private discussions. "He has said this in the past about incidents that relate to him as well". He defended him and attacked the women who made the allegations, He said they were complaining and saying terrible things about someone who had helped them.

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