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

David Sorensen

David Sorensen Speechwriter David Sorensen has resigned two days after the departure of Rob Porter. By Trudy Ring February 09 2018 9:53 PM EST

President Donald Trump says lives are being "destroyed by mere allegation" after two White House aides quit amid accusations of domestic abuse.

He tweeted Saturday that lives were being destroyed by a "mere allegation".

Trump, who was recorded on tape prior to his presidency boasting about sexually assaulting women, has denied allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, and said he was the victim of a "smear campaign".

The White House is trying to stem the fallout from how it handled a senior aide's resignation after allegations of spousal abuse.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on "State of the Union" later Sunday morning that Kelly, whom he considers a friend, should try to stay out of the press as Porter's story unfolds.

The latest imbroglios involving White House personnel are taking place during a turbulent cultural conversation about sexual harassment, with powerful people being laid low by allegations that sometimes stretch back decades.

Priebus adds President Trump has never complained about General Kelly, and praised him for the job he's doing as chief of staff.

Porter, who has denied the allegations, resigned last week and his departure was quickly followed by David Sorensen, a White House speechwriter, also accused of domestic abuse. "President Trump continues to claim the 5 black men from the Central Park jogger case are guilty", O'Brien tweeted.

Many White House senior staff members remained stunned by the accusations against Porter, a well-liked and seemingly mild-mannered graduate of Harvard and Oxford.

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Porter's ex-wives detailed the allegations to the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the course of a routine background check, they told CNN.

Routinely, Trump has accepted claims of innocence from men facing similar allegations, including Fox News head Roger Ailes, anchor Bill O'Reilly and former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of inappropriate contact with teenage girls.

Trump's tweet also struck a nerve with people who noted that assault survivors have their lives "shattered", too. Those possible replacements include Mick Mulvaney, the budget director; Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California; and Gary D. Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser. At the end of the session, according to people with knowledge of his remarks, Kelly volunteered that he had something he wanted to "clarify".

Porter's departure, along with Kelly under fire, could deprive the West Wing of some of its steadier hands and anxious some staffers that the sense of order that appeared to have been installed in recent months could evaporate.

The infighting unfolded amid signs of a brewing shake-up in the West Wing. The staff secretary resigned later Wednesday.

The FBI informed the White House of these charges, which held up Mr Porter's application for a permanent security clearance.

Kelly went on to say that he had learned of Porter's true situation less than an hour before he removed him from his job.

The US administration's reluctance to give credence to the alleged victims of gender violence puts it at odds with the tenets of the #metoo movement now sweeping through Western societies.

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