President Trump on Friday praised Rob Porter, the former staff who resigned this week amid allegations that he abused his two ex-wives.

"We wish him well, he worked very hard," Trump said of Porter during remarks in the Oval Office. "We found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it's obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House."

The White House has taken heat this week for its initial efforts to defend Porter before an image of his ex-wife with a black eye surfaced. The woman said Porter had given her the injury.

"We hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him," Trump said. "But it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he's also very sad now."

After issuing statements of praise for Porter's performance, aides — including chief of staff John Kelly — had to walk back their applause and release statements condemning domestic abuse.

Trump noted Porter has denied the allegations against him.

"He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you'll have to talk to him about that," Trump said. "But we absolutely wish him well."