Vice President Mike Pence, striking a markedly different tone than Trump, said in an interview Friday on MSNBC that "there's no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse".
At the top of her Fox News program last night, Judge Jeanine Pirro - one of the loudest pro-Trump voices in the media - provided a full-throated defense of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly amid the growing Rob Porter scandal. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that said, "If [Trump] wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let's have Congressional hearings tomorrow".
An unnamed member of Congress told Axios that Kelly claims Porter misled him about what a Daily Mail article that first detailed the abuse allegations would say, and that Kelly pushed Porter to resign in the wake of the reports. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman tweeted: "The fact that @realDonaldTrump praised Porter and said not a word about his abusive behavior or his former wives is typical of the WH attitude toward women and abuse". "And more importantly, I think the chief of staff is doing a really good job", Mulvaney said.
Adding to the administration's headaches, White House speechwriter David Sorensen tendered his resignation on Friday as The Washington Post was preparing to report accusations of domestic abuse leveled by his former wife.
"It so clearly illustrates that even today, in 2018, a lot of people react to these sorts of allegations by assuming that the woman is lying, or by indicating that, in essence, how a man behaves with women is nobody's business, that it's irrelevant", said Emily Martin, National Women's Law Center general counsel and vice president for education and workplace justice. It's a White House where distinguishing between right and wrong is prohibited. Reuters has not independently confirmed the allegations against Porter, or against Trump.
Aides' attempts to explain the defensive response from Trump and Kelly only raised more questions.
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"(T) he West Wing continues to function. At the end of the session, according to people with knowledge of his remarks, Kelly volunteered that he had something he wanted to "clarify".
Kelly has indicated he would step aside if he lost the faith of the president.
Shah refused to confirm in detail when and how Kelly in particular became aware of the claims, or Hicks's role in shaping the White House response.
The infighting unfolded amid signs of a brewing shake-up in the West Wing.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, and other aides had maintained to reporters that the White House fully backed Porter, who they said was leaving of his own accord. It is alleged that the former White House staff secretary gave one former wife a black eye while another filed a restraining order.
Kelly, meanwhile, said the only other indication he had that something could be wrong came in November, when he got an update on pending background investigations and learned "there was some things that needed to be looked into".