Indian-American Raj Shah makes White House press briefing debut

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Shah said during a press briefing on Thursday that the White House mishandled the reports on the abuse allegations against Portman, stemming from his two ex-wives.

The White House says it "could have done better" in its handling of allegations of domestic abuse against former staff secretary Rob Porter.

Porter denies the allegations, but after photos were published on Wednesday showing his first wife with a black eye, he resigned.

Despite all of this, the White House's first reaction this week to news of the spousal abuse allegations against Porter was to effusively praise and defend him.

Willoughby was also "worried" about Hope Hicks, the White House communications director and Porter's current partner. The White House seemed to believe it could weather this storm too, as long as this was a rather anonymous staffer and it was a he-said-she-said (or, more aptly, a he-said-they-said).

Taken together, "all the grown-ups in the room protected, privileged, and covered for Rob Porter despite everything they knew about his pattern of abuse, because his career was important to them", says Slate's Dahlia Lithwick.

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Ahead of his debut behind press briefing podium, his boss Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, described him as one of the best and the brightest in the Trump Administration.

"It's the full nature of the allegation - particularly the images", Shah said when asked why Kelly changed course.

Porter's other ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, provided a brief statement to DailyMail.com alleging that Porter had abused her, but the website didn't detail her claims. "The things that I said were factual statements". Holderness has a blackened right eye and a swollen cheekbone. Willoughby, a 39-year-old writer and motivational speaker, said she authorized investigators to obtain a protective order she filed in 2010 after he refused to leave her Arlington, Virginia, apartment, in violation of their separation agreement. "His pathetic defense of staff secretary Rob Porter reveals his true nature - an enabler of sexual abusers, a betrayer of trust and an avoider of responsibility".

The FBI had contacts with the ex-wives a second time, in September. Yet Porter had sat in on meetings of the National Security Council where top-secret matters were discussed, according to three people familiar with the situation. According to reports, he told congressional Democrats that the president was "uninformed" during the campaign when he promised a physical barrier spanning the entirety of the Southern border paid for by Mexico. It's unclear what he told investigators. "The truth must be determined", Shah said.

CNN reported that following their 2003 marriage, Holderness said Porter quickly began to be abusive: "She said that Porter's repeated physically abusive behavior also included throwing her on the bed and forcefully pushing one of his limbs into her body in anger and choking her". "His clearance was never denied, and he resigned", Shah added. Even when they were confronted with information about Porter that they didn't care to seek out themselves - as they were promoting him up the ranks - they played it off as if it were a minor nuisance.

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