Aides to Donald Trump, especially Kellyanne Conway, made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to address allegations of domestic violence by recently fired White House staffers – and sounded pretty tone-deaf.
Conway appeared on both CNN’s State of the Union and ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. On the former, she said she had “no reason not to believe” accusations of abuse made by the two ex-wives of White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned Wednesday.
"In this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury ... you have photographs, and when you look at all of that pulled together, Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning," she told host Jake Tapper. But she also said people should be given the benefit of the doubt – she said Trump and chief of staff John Kelly initially found the allegations hard to believe, just as she’d find it hard to believe such an allegation about Tapper.
Yet Trump appeared to defend Porter and another White House staffer, speechwriter David Sorensen, who resigned Friday after his ex-wife accused him of domestic violence, when he tweeted Saturday, “Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. ... There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
And Kelly had called Porter a “man of true integrity” as late as this week, even though by early last fall, Kelly and other trop Trump aides knew Porter “was facing troubles in obtaining his security clearance and that his ex-wives claimed he had abused them,” CNN reports. White House staffers have contended Kelly knew about the extent of the accusations only Tuesday night.
Further, Conway told Tapper she didn’t worry about White House communications director Hope Hicks dating Porter, as “I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts” – as if strong, smart women are never abused.
On This Week, Conway told Stephanopoulos that Trump has “great compassion and understanding for, for women on many different issues,” a remark that undoubtedly made many viewers choke on their Cheerios.
She made the comment after Stephanopoulos said, “There does seem to be a pattern here. When a friend or an ally -- a man -- of the president's gets in trouble with these allegations of, of abuse or sexual harassment, the president's sympathies immediately go to the man, whether it's Bill O'Reilly or Roger Ailes or Roy Moore or Rob Porter. Why is that, and do you understand the problem that creates for the president?”
After touting Trump’s “compassion and understanding,” Conway added, “I think he’s doing a great job for America’s women. We have to look at the full picture. ... We are a safer, more prosperous nation -- that includes all of us, including the nation’s women -- because of Donald Trump’s leadership.”
Then on NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked White House legislative affairs director Marc Short why Trump had trouble believing the women who accuse men of physical or sexual abuse, playing clips of Trump defending Mike Tyson, Roger Ailes, and Roy Moore. He then asked if Ttump believed the accusations against Porter.
Short said the president has been upset over the years by accusations against himself and is “saddened” by the allegations against Porter, adding, “I think he’s very disturbed by it, and I think he’s very disappointed. I think he believes that the resignation was appropriate.”
Watch videos below.