The White House’s initial response has been criticized.
White House spokesperson Raj Shah said on Thursday it was “fair” to say that the administration should have “done better” in dealing with the allegations of domestic abuse against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned earlier this week.
“I think it’s fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few days in dealing with this situation,” Shah said, filling in for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “But this was a Rob Porter that I and many others had dealt with… and the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know.”
Shah also called the allegations “troubling.”
Raj Shah on abuse allegations against Rob Porter: "I think it's fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few days in dealing with this situation." pic.twitter.com/Nq9Xlwv3Wz
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 8, 2018
Porter’s ex-wives, Jennie Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, both said he was physically abusive. The New York Times reported that the White House knew of the allegations, which contributed to a delay in him receiving security clearance.
When Willoughby first came forward with her story, Kelly said Porter was a “man of true integrity and honor” and said that he was “proud to serve alongside him.” After Holderness shared photos of her black eye, Kelly released a new statement saying he was “shocked” by the allegations and that “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
Kelly’s initial response mirrored the way Trump and his administration have typically disregarded allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Shah, who has become a more prominent figure in the administration’s communications department, reportedly called then-candidate Trump a “deplorable” in 2016 when he worked at the Republican National Committee. He also reportedly said in messages that the release of the Access Hollywood tape where Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women was “some justice.”