Trump frustrated with Hope Hicks's role in Porter scandal

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It's not clear that either McGahn or Kelly knew the full extent of the allegations or that they included spousal abuse, but the best possible explanation is that they seemed to have a real lack of curiosity. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.

In her CNN interview, Willoughby explained that she had stood by her piece since it was published past year, including in the days leading up to the scandal. When the news of Porter's resignation broke, Axios reported that White House senior staff, including Kelly, encouraged Porter to "stay and fight" rather than resign. "The truth must be determined, and that was what was going on with Rob Porter".

The president's glowing praise of a staff member accused of serial violence against women was similar to Trump's own denials of sexual impropriety in the face of accusations from more than a dozen women. Some in the White House were quick to jump to his defense. "Is there any other crime - and it's a crime -where there would be an explanation that the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something?" She told Cooper that Kelly may well have believed Porter's downplayed version of events-an indication of Porter's manipulative tendencies, and Kelly's remarkable reluctance to investigate whether one of his close confidantes was actually an abuser of women. The former girlfriend, who also works in the administration, declined to comment Thursday. Hicks helped draft some of the early White House responses to the allegations against Porter.

"He started calling me names, calling me a "f-ing bitch, ' how I behaved was 'f-ing ridiculous" and most of that was instigated around my not having sex with him often enough on our honeymoon", Willoughby said.

Willoughby said Porter asked her to say she had taken some "liberties with that therapeutic post", but, she said, "when I thought about it, I didn't". It also raises the question of who else in the White House knew, including the president himself.

An "interim" clearance doesn't really require clearance at all. It may be that, in this White House - and maybe previous ones, who knows? - the security clearance process isn't taken all that seriously.

Ahead of his debut behind press briefing podium, his boss Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, described him as one of the best and the brightest in the Trump Administration.

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Willoughby detailed her relationship with Porter to NBC's Savannah Guthrie, which ranged from the "verbally and emotionally abusive" to the physical.

"He became fully aware about these allegations yesterday", said Shah. "It was not completed, and Rob Porter has since resigned", he said. But White House officials said Kelly pushed Porter to stay in the job even after the release of the photos.

Kelly said he found out only Tuesday night that the accusations against Porter "were true".

Speaking with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Willoughby said she "had been in contact with Rob a lot in the last two weeks as he gave me some warning that stories might break". Holderness, a 37-year-old senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said she provided photos of the black eye she said he delivered during a 2005 vacation in Florence, Italy.

In a second incident, she said, Porter punched a hole in the front door, prompting her to call police and get a temporary restraining order.

Willoughby added that Porter accepted her decision. Porter was angry, she said, that he had still not received his security clearance.

Willoughby said she, like Holderness, met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation before her husband took the job a year ago and told them all the things that she has since discussed publicly.