Trump Insists Hicks Is 'Fantastic' Amid Porter Response Debacle


Several of President Donald Trump's senior advisers fanned out on the Sunday morning talk shows to defend the response and seemingly to soften some of the president's comments. ABC News has not spoken with Sorensen nor with his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, who, according to the Washington Post, said she reported his behavior to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during their background check of the speechwriter.

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

Conway and other aides, including budget director Mick Mulvaney, also said Trump has full confidence in chief of staff John Kelly. In a statement released Wednesday evening, Kelly said he was "shocked" by the "new allegations" against Porter.

However, Trump had said that Porter's departure was "very sad" and "he did a very good job while he was in the White House".

Those efforts appear to have succeeded for months, at least in part because of the willingness of a virtually all-male staff in the top echelons of the West Wing to believe a talented male colleague over women they had never met. He made no mention of the ex-wives or the alleged domestic abuse.

When those accusations became public on Tuesday - the British Daily Mail newspaper published a photo of one of Porter's ex-wives with a black eye - Kelly at first strongly defended his aide.

Critics say the president's chief of staff, John Kelly, has badly mishandled the matter and that his future at the White House hangs by a thread. At the end of the session, according to people with knowledge of his remarks, Kelly volunteered that he had something he wanted to "clarify".

The president has stood by other men - including Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate - when they faced allegations of abuse or harassment, while rarely expressing sympathy for the women who accused them.

White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday following domestic abuse allegations, a senior White House official told ABC News. In both cases, the aides seemed to be anxious that such misleading actions could do irreparable damage - for Trump with the Russian Federation investigation and for Kelly with his and the White House's credibility. At a senior staff meeting on Friday, Kelly tried to push his own timeline concerning Porter. The staff secretary resigned later Wednesday. 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.

"We all could have done better over the last few hours, the last few days, in dealing with this. but the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual we had come to know", Shah said Thursday.

"I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter", Pence said in an NBC interview Friday from South Korea, where he was attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. Shah also repeatedly declined to get into specifics about how much the White House knew past year about the allegations against Porter.

"That's like saying that axe murderer out there, he's a great painter", said former Vice President Joe Biden.