On Thursday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah began the daily press briefing by addressing the departure of former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. In the last two days, The Daily Mail and The Intercept published stories alleging that Porter physically abused his two ex-wives.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly learned about the allegations months ago when Porter applied for a security clearance. But on Wednesday, Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders both issued statements defending Porter’s character, even after he submitted his resignation.
CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Shah whether Kelly had any “regrets” about the way Porter’s departure was handled. Shah called the allegations that surfaced against Porter “deeply troubling” and “shocking” and said “we all could have done better over … the last few days in dealing with the situation.” However, Shah insisted that “the initial reports were not reflective of the [Porter] we had come to know.”
Shah says the White House “could have done better” in dealing with the Porter allegations over the last few days https://t.co/fHIpLO2Ei6
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 8, 2018
In the course of his remarks, Shah also appeared to contradict the White House’s official explanation of Porter’s departure. ABC News’ Cecilia Vega noted that the White House initially said his exit was a “personal” decision, but Shah on Thursday first said that Porter had been “terminated” Wednesday, before then saying that Porter “offered his resignation” Wednesday, and “it was accepted.”
Deputy Press Sec. Raj Shah tells @CeciliaVega Rob Porter’s last day was yesterday. Porter, the White House staff secretary, resigned amid allegations of domestic violence. https://t.co/6aLlQnJuKP pic.twitter.com/fB1z32mNTX
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 8, 2018
Later in the briefing, Shah claimed that Kelly’s statement defending Porter was released before he saw the pictures one of Porter’s ex-wives provided documenting his alleged abuse, though The Washington Post‘s Josh Dawsey noted that Kelly’s statement came after the images went public.