Speed Reads

Rob Porter Scandal

In private, Trump reportedly calls Rob Porter a 'sick puppy,' says he believes the ex-wives

In public, President Trump has given former White House staff secretary Rob Porter the benefit of the doubt, wishing him well on Friday while reminding reporters "you have to remember that he said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent" of domestic violence against his ex-wives. On Saturday, Trump lamented on Twitter that "lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation" with no "Due Process." But privately, Jonathan Swan reports at Axios, Trump "has told multiple people that he believes the accusations about Porter, and finds him 'sick.'"

Trump's split public-private reaction to the Porter allegations "is the strongest indicator yet that Trump will reflexively defend his male allies from any and all accusations, even when he thinks those accusations are true," Swan says. "Trump tells friends that he deplores the #MeToo movement and believes it unfairly exposes CEOs to lawsuits from their female employees." Still, Trump told associates that men who beat their wives, like child molesters, are "sick puppies," Axios reports, and Trump was shocked that a guy like Porter, "straight out of central casting," was violent with women.

Regardless of his private views, "White House aides acknowledged that the Porter scandal is all-consuming, even for an administration that is used to bouncing from crisis to crisis," Politico reports, and it's testing the patience of Trump allies. "The president is more interested in promoting what he considers star casting than competent people," one prominent Republican close to the White House and congressional Republicans tells Politico. "This chases the competent people out (or keeps them away) and empowers the people who look good on paper or in front of a camera."

A senior administration official shrugged, expressing confidence that Trump's Twitter feed can shift attention to immigration. "We have an uncanny ability to change news cycles," the official told Politico. "I think he'll be able to shift it to what he wants."