Trump breaks silence on Rob Porter abuse allegations

Chief of staff John Kelly told the president he'd be willing to resign, sources say.
5:13 | 02/09/18

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Transcript for Trump breaks silence on Rob Porter abuse allegations
out the week, and what a week inside the west wing. Tonight, president trump speaking publicly for the first time about the domestic abuse scandal involving his former close aide, rob porter. Allegations now made by porter's two ex-wives. The president today praising porter's work wishing him well, telling reporters, quote, he says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that. The president adding, it has been a tough time for porter. Hope hicks who has been romantically linked to porter was right there in the oval office as the president weighed in today. Late today, telling ABC news, the chief of staff, John Kelly telling president trump his willingness to design over his handling of the scandal. Cecilia Vega leading us off. Reporter: With his white house under fire today president trump breaking his silence, praising his former staff secretary rob porter, who resigned amid allegations he abused both of his former wives. We certainly wish him well. It's a obviously 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. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he's also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent -- Reporter: While the president talked about the "Tough time" for porter, no mention of the women, porter's two ex-wives who went public with their accusations of verbal and physical abuse. One releasing this photo of a black and blue eye, she says, from porter's punch. As president trump spoke right there in that room, communications director hope hicks, who is romantically linked to porter. And chief of staff John Kelly who was brought into restore order in the west wing, but Kelly reportedly knew about the abuse allegations against porter for months. And sources telling ABC news the president is furious with how both aides handled the west wing crisis. Hicks, those sources say, helped write the administration's initial public statements defending porter. The president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities. And his performance. Reporter: When the story first broke, Kelly called porter a man of true integrity and honor. But tonight sources tell ABC news that within the past 24 hours, Kelly told the president he would be willing to resign. They say the president has spoken to confidantes about possibly replacing Kelly including gauging businessman and longtime friend Tom barrack's interest in the job. Barrack said he's not interested. This as Kelly does some damage control of his own. Sending this letter to staffers saying the white house takes matters of domestic violence very seriously and in a meeting first thing this morning, "The Washington post" says Kelly told staffers to say he took action to remove porter within 40 minutes of learning about the ex-wives' allegations were credible. But porter's ex-wives tell ABC news they told the FBI about his alleged abuse last January when they were interviewed as part of his white house security clearance. His second wife Jennie Willoughby says she told them everything. I told them all of the details of my marriage including verbal and emotional abuse. Reporter: "The Washington post" reporting white house counsel don Mcghan first learned of the abuse allegations around the time of the president's inauguration. Porter denies abusing his ex-wives saying these outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. We wish him well. Reporter: This is not the first time the president has come to the defense of a man accused of violence against women. He endorsed Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore in the face of multiple sexual misconduct accusations. What do you say to women? Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That's all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it. Reporter: More than a dozen women have accused the president himself of sexual misconduct. He's branded all of them liars. And today he had nothing but good wishes for rob porter. We absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job while he was at the white house. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. So let's get to Cecilia Vega with us live tonight at the white house, and Cecilia, you and the team reporting that chief of staff John Kelly expressed a willingness to resign to the president, and you're saying there is already a list of possible replacements? Reporter: Some names being kicked around here. Among these, Gary Cohn, Mick Mulvaney, and mark meadows. And president trump of course, gauging the interest of some others. And the interest still out there. We know rob porter was working with a temporary security clearance. He is not the only one in the west wing who had not been granted full security clearance? Reporter: The white house has declined to report a number on who is using a temporary path, but jarreed Kushner, the president's own son-in-law, is among them. Cecile yarks thank you. We are following the major

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