2nd White House aide quits over domestic abuse
Washington: A second White House staffer in a week has resigned over domestic abuse claims, in a widening scandal that called into question the president's judgment and tainted his chief of staff John Kelly and longtime aide Hope Hicks.
Hours after Trump's comments about staff secretary Rob Porter, a White House speech-writer, David Sorensen, on Friday resigned after his wife said he was abusive, claims he denies.
Porter -- who also denies abuse alleged by two ex-wives, one of whom released a photo of herself with a black eye -- worked at the heart of the White House throughout the first year of Trump's administration, despite being denied a full security clearance.
He only stepped down from his post on Wednesday after the accusations became public.
Trump, who has himself been accused of sexual harassment or assault by two dozen women, fueled the scandal by praising Porter and suggesting he had a bright future.
He made no mention of the ex-wives or the alleged domestic abuse.
"We certainly wish him well, and it's a tough time for him," Trump said in the Oval Office.
"He did a very good job when he was in the White House.
And we hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him."
"As you probably know, he says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that."
That prompted a sharp rebuke from Democrats like Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who slammed the White House's "culture of misogyny."
Chief of Staff John Kelly was aware of the allegations and also praised Porter's conduct in the White House, maintaining that "every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation."
Hicks, perhaps Trump's most trusted aide, had helped craft the response to the scandal as White House communications director, despite being romantically involved with Porter.
Deputy White House spokesman Raj Shah said the White House only learned late on Thursday about allegations against Sorensen, the speech-writer.
"We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned on Saturday," Shah said.
Sorensen's ex-wife Jessica Corbett told The Washington Post that while they were married, he ran a car over her foot, extinguished a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grabbed her by her hair, but that she did not report the incidents due to her then-husband's connections to law enforcement.
While Sorensen's post as a Council on Environmental Quality speech-writer did not require a security clearance, Corbett said she had described his behavior to the FBI as it conducted an ongoing background check of Sorensen in the fall.
"It's alarming Rob Porter remained in an influential role," said Democratic Representative Ann McLane Kuster, "even as revelations about his domestic abuse were apparently known among senior Trump staffers."