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Trump decries ‘shattered’ lives after week of personnel turmoil

By Justin Sink • Feb 11, 2018 at 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON –– President Donald Trump decried lives “being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation” at the end of a week that saw the departure of two White House aides after accusations of domestic violence.

“There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone,” Trump posted on Twitter Saturday.

Although Trump didn’t specify to whom who he was referring, the post followed remarks the president made on Friday, when asked about the departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend came forward to detail allegations of physical abuse.

During his comments in the Oval Office, the president didn’t mention the women or address domestic violence, instead remarking that it was a “tough time” for his former aide.

“He did a very good job when he was in the White House,” Trump said. “And we hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.” The president noted that note that Porter “said very strongly” that he was innocent of the alleged assaults.

The White House announced later Friday that speechwriter David Sorensen, who worked at the Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned after administration officials learned that his ex-wife had accused him of physical abuse. Sorensen, too, has denied that he physically harmed his former partner.

Trump’s comments were the latest in a which he’s appeared willing to offer support to men accused of sexual impropriety.

The president endorsed Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican who ran for the U.S. Senate last year, despite multiple allegations that he initiated sexual encounters with minors. Trump also defended former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted from his job over sexual harassment claims.

The president himself has faced accusations -- which he’s denied -- from more than a dozen women of offenses including groping and nonconsensual kissing.

Trump has been less supportive of “due process” in the past. In 1989, Trump placed full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for the execution of black and Latino teenagers accused of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park. The “Central Park Five” were later exonerated by DNA evidence. Trump also repeatedly questioned the validity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, despite no credible evidence to dispute the fact Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.

He’s come to the defense, though, of people like Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with the Russian government. “General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed,” Trump lamented on Twitter in December. Trump has also repeatedly termed the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia a witch hunt driven by Democrats.

The White House’s stumbling response to this week’s allegations against Porter have again plunged the West Wing into chaos. White House chief of staff John Kelly, who has publicly offered contradictory accounts of his handling of the Porter situation, is facing questions about his future in the job.

In a meeting Friday, Kelly encouraged subordinates to spread the word that he removed Porter within 40 minutes of receiving evidence on Feb. 6 that the spousal abuse allegations, first reported by the United Kingdom newspaper the Daily Mail, were credible, said a person familiar with the matter. But that account was contradicted by public statements Kelly made at the time, and the fact that Porter was still at the White House two days later.

ABC News and the New York Times reported that Kelly indicated to Trump a willingness to resign over his handing of the incident. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said after the reports were published that Kelly hasn’t offered his resignation. There is no sense the chief of staff’s departure is imminent, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The episode has also cast a shadow over communications director Hope Hicks, the longtime Trump aide who was dating Porter when the allegations emerged. Hicks was involved with the White House’s initial response to the Porter allegations, which included issuing laudatory statements from Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

White House counsel Don McGahn is also facing questions about whether he should have sooner informed more members of the staff about the domestic-abuse allegations, or implemented a more thorough vetting process, in line with the actions of previous administrations. The Washington Post reported that McGahn knew in January 2017 that Porter’s ex-wives were prepared to make damaging claims that could threaten his ability to receive a security clearance.

“I think it’s fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few hours, or last few days in dealing with this situation,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said Thursday.

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©2018 Bloomberg News

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