Transcript for White House under fire amid bombshell abuse claims against former staff secretary
To the white house and that growing firestorm over the top aide rob porter forced out after two ex-wives accused him of abuse. Our senior white house correspondent Cecilia Vega has the latest and, I was watching your colleagues in the briefing room yesterday. Chief of staff John Kelly, other top aides facing questions. Why didn't they take action? Reporter: You probably saw the white house didn't have many answers to those questions. Now that this story has exploded, rob porter is officially off of the job. He packed up his office here yesterday and left. This after the white house had initially said he would stay on the job after resigning to oversee a smooth transition. With the west wing in crisis mode, overnight chief of staff John Kelly sent a letter to staffers telling them the white house takes matters of domestic violence very seriously. This as the administration faces mounting questions about exactly how long Kelly knew of those bombshell abuse claims made by former staff secretary rob porter's two ex-wives. His first ex-wife releasing this photo to ABC saying he punched her in the face in 2005. In that letter Kelly never mentioned porter's name but he offered counseling assistance saying we understand the shock, pain and confusion that these allegations have caused in our workplace. Both women tell ABC news they told the FBI about porter's alleged abuse when they were interviewed during a background check for his white house security clearance. And they say porter contacted them after, one telling "The Washington post" he asked if she used the word violent in her interview. His second wife, Jennie Willoughby says she told them everything. They were asking me to describe his character, asking me to describe anything that I thought might be problematic in his position. I was very candid and frank and detailed with them about my marriage. Reporter: His first wife, colbie Holderness tells ABC in late 2016, another woman reached out to her accusing porter of repeated abuse saying he's legitimately susceptible to blackmail and shouldn't have that clearance. According to "The Washington post," white house counsel don mcgahn was made aware of the abuse allegations at least three spate times and that Kelly knew about them as early as this fall. When they first broke Kelly called porter a man of true integrity and honor. But Kelly's second statement said he was shocked by the new allegations and that there is no place for domestic violence. But that every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. The white house saying Kelly's new statement was large prompted by the release of the graphic photos. Are you saying that the chief of staff of this white house had no idea that rob porter's two ex-wives had domestic violence allegations against him when they made those claims to the FBI that John Kelly did not know that? How is that possible the chief of staff did not know that. The chief of staff does not get detailed updates about what a or may not have been alleged. Reporter: Porter is romantically linked to hope hicks. The white house not saying whether she helped write the statements commending porter. I would say that all the statements were crafted by a number of senior white house officials. Reporter: Porter denies abusing his ex-wives saying the outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. As for what president trump knew and when, the white house will only say he learned of questions surrounding porter's security clearance as reports surfaced in the press. He was surprised by it. He was disheartened by it and saddened by it. Reporter: Now a rare admission of fault from the white house, that deputy press secretary Raj shah said they could have done better dealing with this. More questions about how John Kelly is managing the white house and whether others have issues with their security cleans. Reporter: Because of these abuse allegations rob porter was never granted a permanent security clearance and was here for a full year working on a temporary pass because of these allegations and he wasn't alone. Jared Kushner is still on one of these temporary security clearances. John Kelly has been frustrated by the number of aides on the temporary passes, sources tell us there's been chatter here in the west wing about possibly letting these people go but so far, George, no plans to carry any of this action out. Vague Cecilia, thanks very much.
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