A week after a White House aide resigned amid allegations of abuse from two ex-wives, President Trump declared he's "totally opposed to domestic violence." The president had remained silent on the matter after tweeting four days ago that "peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation." The White House has been under heavy scrutiny for the way it handled the allegations against Trump's former staff secretary, Rob Porter, and the House Oversight Committee announced Wednesday that it would investigate why Porter was employed by the administration in the first place.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump said "everyone knows" he doesn't condone domestic violence. "And it almost wouldn't even have to be said," Trump added, "so, now you hear it, but you all know."
While the White House has repeatedly claimed Porter's background check was "ongoing," the FBI confirmed Tuesday that it had completed its investigation into Porter's past. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress the agency "submitted a partial report on the investigation in question in March, and then a completed background investigation in late July." The FBI then followed up on additional information it received, resulting in a third report produced in November, before the investigation was closed in January.
Former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller asserted on Twitter that the multiple reports Wray described signaled a problem with Porter's background check. "About the FBI's interim report on Porter in March: those aren't routine," Miller tweeted Tuesday. "Usually means the check has turned up something disqualifying that the FBI wants to elevate to decision makers immediately."
Porter has denied his ex-wives' allegations, and submitted his resignation, though he will remain in the White House for an undetermined amount of time to help with the transition. Before he resigned, though, he was reportedly up for a promotion, CNN reported Tuesday. Sources told CNN the Trump administration was considering bumping Porter's role from the president's staff secretary to his deputy chief of staff despite having received a full report on his background.
Until Trump assured the nation he's "totally opposed to domestic violence" on Wednesday, the administration fully stood behind Porter. When announcing Porter's resignation, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said both Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly had "full confidence and trust" in Porter's abilities. Trump himself told reporters Porter maintains his innocence, saying it's "obviously a tough time" for Porter and wishing him well.
The president's vague tweet last week about "mere allegations" ruining lives also gave the impression that he thought Porter was being unfairly vilified by the media. He wrote:
"Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"
Kelly was less cryptic about standing beside Porter, saying in a statement: "Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him." Axios reports he also tried to convince Porter "to stay and fight" the abuse allegations costing him his job.
As criticisms of how the administration was handling the situation heated up over the past week, Kelly reportedly offered to resign. However, the White House denied that Kelly had offered to step aside.
The White House is now doing damage control. Trump's statement about opposing domestic violence may have been an attempt to clear the air, but he notably didn't condemn Porter's alleged actions or say he believes Porter's accusers.