The resignation of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday amid accusations of domestic abuse continues to roil Washington. President Trump himself defended Porter while speaking to reporters Friday, while Chief of Staff John Kelly is under increasing scrutiny for his role in Porter's departure.
The FBI was made aware of the allegations months ago, after Porter applied and was not cleared for a permanent security clearance. But on Friday, Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary for President George W. Bush, told Fox News host Harris Faulkner that the whole situation may have been merely a "he said, she said" mix-up.
Faulkner began the interview by asking whether Trump — who told reporters Friday that the allegations were "very sad" while reminding his audience that Porter "says he's innocent" — deserves "credit" for addressing the situation head on. Fleischer said Trump's answer was clearly "heartfelt," though he did concede that Trump should have included an acknowledgment of the severity of domestic violence in general. He went on to say, however, that the "core of the issue" is that "none of us" know what really happened because we don't have "the specifics of what the FBI was told" by Porter's ex-wives.
"The vetting process often does take into account 'he said, she said' [issues]," Fleischer said. "It's a very hard call because none of us actually do know what the facts or truth are, and Rob Porter did deny it." When Faulkner mentioned that Porter's ongoing lack of a permanent security clearance should have hinted at some underlying issue, Fleischer said that the White House only knows "what the FBI tells them. And it could've been a 'he said, she said.' It may not have been a clear case."
Porter resigned Wednesday after the Daily Mail and The Intercept published stories detailing the alleged abuse, complete with graphic photos that Porter has admitted he took. Watch the interview below. Kelly O'Meara Morales