President Donald Trump’s comments offering well wishes to former White House staff secretary Rob Porter — who is facing multiple allegations of domestic violence — are drawing scrutiny from lawmakers and politicians.
"He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you'll have to talk to him about that," the president said in the Oval Office of Porter on Friday.
"It's obviously a tough time for him, he did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him,” Trump said.
He made no mention of the women who allegedly endured abuse from Porter which they claim ranged from choking to punching in the face to shaking violently.
Porter has denied the claims as "outrageous allegations" that are "simply false" and called them part of a "coordinated smear campaign."
Speaking to thousands of fraternity and sorority leaders in Indianapolis, former Vice President Joe Biden blasted the president for wishing Porter well and saying he was good at his job.
"Over this past week, we have just seen abusers of the highest ranks within the Oval Offic," Biden said. "Translate this into every day terms – is there any other crime – and it’s a crime — where there’d be an explanation the reason why we shouldn’t pay attention to the transgression is because they’re good at something?"
Democratic lawmakers weighed in with criticism on Twitter.
No one's surprised that Trump would defend a man who abuses women. But a President publicly empathizing with an abuser rather than the women who came forward will have profound negative effects on how we deal with intimate partner violence in this country. https://t.co/tarklVjxNb— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) February 9, 2018
Americans deserve a president who believes & respects women. Shameful. pic.twitter.com/5tMWmyma7n— Jim McGovern (@RepMcGovern) February 9, 2018
Even after photographic evidence of #RobPorter's abuse emerges, @realDonaldTrump says nothing about the women who have been harmed - and stands by his recently resigned staffer. This is the White House's #CultureofMisogyny— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) February 9, 2018
.@realDonaldTrump shows ZERO sympathy for the multiple women Rob Porter is accused of abusing. But hopefully Porter has a great career... Truly sad. Domestic violence cannot be tolerated anywhere. https://t.co/YYv2rxADk1— Ann McLane Kuster (@RepAnnieKuster) February 9, 2018
Vice President Mike Pence did not react to the president’s comments on Porter but said he was "appalled" when he learned of the allegations against Porter and condemned domestic abuse.
"The time that he resigned is when I first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse and there’s no tolerance in this White House, no place in America for domestic abuse,” Pence said in an interview with NBC. “That being said, I think the White House has acknowledged that they could have handled it better.”
He added, “When I return to Washington DC, I’m going to look into the matter, and I’ll share my counsel with the president directly.”