White House response to abuse claims shines light on victims' fears

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"When a friend or an ally - a man - gets in trouble with these allegations of abuse or sexual harassment, the president's sympathies immediately go to the man", Stephanopoulos said.

When photos surfaced of one of Porter's wives with blackened eyes, it was not enough for Donald Trump to scold his staff secretary.

The president followed that up Saturday with a tweet that "lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation".

The National Organization for Women called Chief-of-Staff John Kelly an "enabler of domestic violence" when he said that "Rob Porter is a man of true integrity".

Mr Trump, who paid tribute to Mr Porter on Friday during a press conference in which he told people to "remember that he said that he's innocent", has himself been accused of sexual misconduct, something he has strongly denied.

The president has fumed that Kelly was too slow in bringing the allegations against staff secretary Rob Porter to his attention.

Porter forcefully denied the accusations, dismissing them as "simply false".

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In an interview with CNN, Porter's ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby detailed allegations of abuse, saying that during her marriage she lived under a "low-grade constant terror of not knowing what I might do to set something off". It was no secret that his history of abuse was well known and both ex-wives had reported the abuse to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

David Sorensen, a speechwriter for President Trump, reigned when he learnt that the Washington Post was working on a story detailing accusations of physical and emotional abuse by his ex-wife.

The 11 senators - who sit on the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs, Intelligence, Armed Services, and Judiciary committees - also questioned recent reports that in addition to Porter, there are "multiple aides" who continue to work in the White House despite being denied a security clearance.

The emerging timeline illustrates the degree to which Porter, a clean-cut and ambitious former Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School-educated lawyer, concealed troublesome episodes from his past that would normally be considered disqualifying for a senior White House aide. You think that maybe someone would have mentioned it to me.

Trump on Friday offered praise for Porter. Short described Trump as "saddened", "disturbed", and "disappointed" by the Porter situation, and he said that the president believes Porter's resignation was the right move. Hicks has become one of Trump's closest confidants, and while the president has groused about her involvement in the Porter flareup, he had not suggested ousting her, according to the two people familiar with his private discussions.

Conversations have been going on last week among White House staffers as to what a "post-Kelly world looks like", a source familiar with these discussions said, with Mulvaney seen as a leading contender to eventually replace Kelly. He defended him and attacked the women who made the allegations, He said they were complaining and saying disgusting things about someone who had helped them.

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