White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday, after reports surfaced that he had physically abused two of his ex-wives. Porter denied the allegations — detailed by ex-wives Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby to the Daily Mail and The Intercept this week — but resigned anyway, saying he "will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."
As Porter's resignation rippled through Washington, the White House defended their man. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Porter "someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character," while Chief of Staff John Kelly said Porter was "a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional."
This was a line too far for CNN's Jake Tapper, who opened Wednesday's The Lead with a pointed message. "There are basic lines of decency," Tapper said, "and we continue to see [President Trump's] presidency eroding these lines."
Invoking Trump's defense of some white nationalists at a rally in Virginia last year as "very fine people," as well as the president's endorsement of former Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was credibly accused of sexual assault of minors, Tapper questioned the administration's moral compass: "To this list … the White House has now added someone accused by two ex-wives of spousal abuse."
Tapper said the White House's defense of Porter was just "a further erosion of standards of what I thought we'd all agreed was not okay, not acceptable, not moral." He continued: "The White House is sadly no longer considered a place of the highest standards in the land, but rather a place where our national standards are being degraded."
Watch below. Kelly O'Meara Morales
.@jaketapper: I just wanted to once again note a further erosion of standards for what I thought we had agreed was not okay, not acceptable, and not moral.
Another moment where the White House is not considered a place of the highest standards. https://t.co/yCg4imMsHZ pic.twitter.com/GzQ97KMuwN
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) February 7, 2018