White House struggles to explain handling of Porter

The White House on Monday struggled to explain its handling of abuse allegations against former top aide Rob Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last week.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement she said was dictated by President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll We must do more to protect American Jews 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE, declaring his support for victims of domestic violence.

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"Above all, the president supports the victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process,” she said.

But Sanders would not say why the president, who has praised Porter and defended people whose “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” has not said those words himself.

The spokesperson was peppered with questions about the president’s view on Porter and why he was allowed to work in a senior staff positions months after the White House reportedly learned of the allegations, ensuring the saga extended into a sixth day.

Sanders also appeared to contradict multiple news reports that White House counsel Don McGahn was informed last year of the allegations by federal investigators working on Porter’s application for a security clearance, saying it’s “not accurate.”

But she refused to say if McGahn knew about the accusations any time before Tuesday.

“I can’t get into the specifics,” she said. “The process for the background check was ongoing and the White House had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of the background check.”

Both of Porter's ex-wives have accused him of domestic abuse, with one revealing photographs of herself with a black eye that she said she got from her former husband. Porter has denied the allegations.

Sanders pushed aside the idea that the president's decision to wish Porter well and tweet about false allegations could be seen as "tone deaf" in light of the accusations levied against Porter.

"Supporting due process for any allegation is not tone deaf, I think it is allowing things to be investigated and a mere allegation not be the determining factor," Sanders said. "He's not taking a side necessarily.”

On Friday, Trump said he hoped that Porter has a "great career ahead of him." On Saturday, he tweeted about how "peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation," a statement that seemed aimed broadly at those making claims of sexual harassment or abuse.

Updated at 4:39 p.m.