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White House grapples with aide resignation

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February 12, 2018

Trump aid Rob Porter has resigned after two former wives said he abused them.

Reeling from the downfall of a senior aide, the White House is on the defensive, attempting to soften President Donald Trump's comments about the mistreatment of women while rallying around the embattled chief of staff.

Several senior aides fanned out on morning talk shows to explain how the White House handled the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter, a rising West Wing star who exited after two ex-wives came forward with allegations of spousal abuse. And they tried to clarify the reaction from Trump, who has yet to offer a sympathetic word to the women who said they had been abused.

"The president believes, as he said the other day, you have to consider all sides," said senior counselor Kellyanne Conway. "He has said this in the past about incidents that relate to him as well. At the same time, you have to look at the results. The result is that Rob Porter is no longer the staff secretary."

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that "lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false." And the day before, he pointed to Porter's assertions of innocence and wished him a great future.

Conway also delivered what she said was a vote of confidence from Trump for chief of staff John Kelly, who has come under fire for his handling of the Porter matter.

Trump has grown frustrated with Kelly, once commended for bringing discipline to the West Wing, and has begun floating possible names for a future chief of staff in conversations with outside advisers, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations.

As the aftershocks of the accusations against Porter reverberated for a sixth day, Trump stayed out of sight on a rainy Sunday in Washington. Showing little regard for the #MeToo movement, he has followed a pattern of giving the benefit of the doubt to powerful men and insisting upon his own innocence in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women.

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