President Trump on Friday spoke up in defense of former top staffer Rob Porter, who was forced to resign after credible allegations became public that he had abused his ex-wives.
Here were Trump's remarks:
"We wish him well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well. It's obviously a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House and we hope he has a wonderful career. Hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he's also very sad. Now, he also, as you probably know, he says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent. So, you'll have to talk to him about that. But we absolutely wish him well. Did a very good job while he was at the White House."
Now, the obvious defense of Trump's remarks are that it's true Porter has not been proven guilty in the court of law, so Trump was just applying the legal standard of "innocent until proven guilty" and praising the work he did during his time at the White House. However, that's a legal standard, it's not a standard which we have to apply to everybody as we form judgment. Harvey Weinstein, for instance, has not been convicted of anything.
Trump's words might have some more credibility if he applied the "innocent until proven guilty" line more consistently. However, he didn't apply that standard when highlighting Bill Clinton's accusers in the 2016 campaign. And he certainly didn't apply a high standard of evidence when he questioned Barack Obama's birthplace, peddled a conspiracy theory linking Sen. Ted Cruz's dad to the JFK assassination, or claiming that millions voted illegally.
Yet in Porter's case we have detailed accounts from multiple accusers, and even photographic evidence. And yet Trump wants to emphasize that he says he's innocent, while praising his work and wishing him a great career.
Since the story broke, there's been a lot of focus on chief of staff John Kelly's defense of Porter, Porter's relationship with communications director Hope Hicks, and a report that White House counsel Don McGahn knew about domestic violence claims against Rob Porter as early as January 2017. But Trump's comments makes clear that the attitude in the White House toward domestic violence claims comes straight from the top, which reveals a loathsome character.