Trump wishes disgraced aide Porter well

Rob Porter with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Porter's resignation amid allegations of domestic abuse raised fresh questions about Chief of Staff John Kelly's ability to bring a tumultuous White House under control and how much Trump knew about the claims.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Raj Shah said the White House was allowing the issue to play out through the security-clearance review process, arguing that it was the appropriate place for the allegations and Porter's denials to be assessed.

Of the abuse allegations, said Trump: "I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it". He helped craft Trump's well-received State of the Union address and was credited internally for helping bridge divides in a White House riven by rivalries and for helping more effectively roll out new policy.

"We hope that he will have a wonderful career", Trump added.

"As you probably know, he says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that".

In November, the White House heard back from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly staff secretary as someone he was "proud to serve alongside", and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described Porter as someone "of the highest integrity and exemplary character".

Democrats and women's groups are demanding the resignation of Mr Kelly, a retired Marine general who was brought in a year ago to control the spread of chaos in an ill-disciplined White House.

"Photos of his battered ex-wife are deeply disturbing. And the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know". "That's what I would do if I was General Kelly". "And in this case, those didn't work and we need to find out why", he told Fox News. But even then, Kelly was urging him to stay, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to convey internal discussions.

'The time that he resigned is when I first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse, ' he said in a sit-down with Lester Holt on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Pence added that when he returns to Washington, DC, he will look into the matter and share his "counsel with the President directly". "But we absolutely wish him well", Trump continued.

It was Trump's first comment on the allegations against Porter, who has been one of his most trusted staffers.

Shah explained Kelly's change in opinion about the seriousness of the allegations by saying that Kelly wasn't "fully aware" of the allegations until Wednesday. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. "I'm not going to get into the specifics, regarding who may have known what pieces of information".

It is unusual for senior White House personnel to wait more than three months for a permanent top secret/sensitive compartmented information clearance though it has happened, said a former senior White House official in the Obama administration familiar with the process.

Until hours before the Harvard graduate left his post, the White House was praising him as an upstanding and integral member of staff. "The truth must be determined, and that is what was going on with Rob Porter".

Trump noted that Porter has denied the allegations of domestic abuse leveled by two of his ex-wives.

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