US President Donald Trump has come under harsh criticism for praising his former aide who had quit his job over allegations of domestic abuse.
Staff secretary Rob Porter resigned on Wednesday following revelations that both of his ex-wives had accused him of physical and emotional abuse, with one presenting pictures of her blackened eye. Porter, however, rejected the allegations, calling them “outrageous” and “simply false.”
On Friday morning, Trump praised Porter for his “good job” at the White House, saying that “he’s innocent.”
“We certainly wish him well and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “And we hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him.”
A few hours later, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, a frequent critic of the president, said Trump’s comments were especially troubling “in a watershed time where more women and men are coming forward with harrowing #MeToo stories of abuse.”
“Instead of offering sympathy to the women who’ve come forward alleging abuse, Trump wished Porter well & pointed to his claims of innocence,” Lieu tweeted. “At this point, it’s hard to come up w/ new ways to express total dismay for @POTUS’s appallingly unpresidential remarks & actions in office.”
Also, Democratic Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster criticized Trump, saying, “It’s alarming Rob Porter remained in an influential role even as revelations about his domestic abuse were apparently known among senior Trump staffers.”
“Photos of his battered ex-wife are deeply disturbing. We must know who knew what when,” Kuster added.
In addition to Trump, his chief of staff John Kelly and long-time aide Hope Hicks have both praised Porter’s conduct in the White House.
This comes as the Trump administration has been beset by scandal and staff departures.
More than a dozen women have accused him of sexually harassing them before being elected as the president.
Trump ended his first year in office with an approval rating that is the lowest in modern polling for a president at this point in a term. Indeed just six of the past 12 presidents ever went as low or lower in approval as Trump is now.