White House: Trump call for due process on abuse claims 'not tone deaf'

Politico Politics 6 months ago

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted on Monday that President Donald Trump supported victims of domestic violence “above all,” swatting away claims that his call for “due process” on allegations of abuse was “tone deaf.”

“The president and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly,” Sanders said at the White House press briefing. “Above all the president supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process.”

The White House has faced a firestorm of criticism over the past week after two administration officials resigned amid allegations of domestic violence.

Trump drew scorn from Democratic officials and advocacy groups on Friday when he responded to the departure of aide Robert Porter by wishing “him well” and stressing that Porter “says he’s innocent.” The remarks notably failed to mention Porter’s two ex-wives, whose accounts alleging spousal abuse — including photos of one of them with a black eye — were published by The Daily Mail last week.

The president again weighed in on the matter on Twitter over the weekend, lamenting that “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

“There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone,” Trump wrote on Saturday. “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Sanders on Monday dismissed the notion that his call for more vetting of allegations was insensitive.

“I don’t think the president supporting due process for any allegations is … tone deaf,” Sanders said. “I think it is allowing things to be investigated and a mere allegation not be the determining factor.”

Trump, who has dismissed allegations of sexual harassment and assault leveled against him from more than a dozen women, has repeatedly responded to claims of abuse or violence against women by expressing sympathy for the men accused.

White House chief of staff John Kelly faced scrutiny for initially responding to allegations of violence against Porter, who resigned last Wednesday, by praising the aide’s character. He later issued a statement saying he was “shocked” by accounts of abuse from Porter’s ex-wives, and issued a memo to White House officials stressing that the administration took the allegations “very seriously.”

Sanders echoed the remarks at Monday’s press briefing.

“The president and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously and believe all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly,” she said.

David Sorensen, a speechwriter for the Trump administration, became the second official to step down over the past week amid allegations of spousal abuse.

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