A “Fox and Friends” co-host on Monday morning pushed back on a White House spokesman’s claims that President Donald Trump, a noted fan of the morning talk show, has been “very clear” about his opinion on domestic violence and abuse.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked White House deputy press secretary J. Hogan Gidley to respond to an Axios report that Trump has been privately disgusted by allegations of domestic abuse against his former staff secretary Rob Porter.
“Why won’t he say that publicly?” Kilmeade asked Gidley.
“The President has been very clear that all forms of abuse, all forms of battery against women, is deplorable and disgusting,” Gidley replied.
Kilmeade interrupted, “But he hasn’t said that.”
“Right, but you haven’t talked to him today,” Gidley replied. “I mean, obviously he’s said that multiple times in the past, but in this particular instance, you’re talking about sources that I can’t verify because I have not had that conversation with him.”
Gidley claimed that he has spoken directly to Trump “about issues surrounding this type of behavior and he finds it disgusting.”
“The President deplores — thinks that domestic violence is grotesque. He’s said that on multiple occasions,” Gidley said. “There’s no place for it in this country, there’s no place for it in the White House and the President won’t stand for it.”
Despite Gidley’s claims, Trump has been actively, publicly supportive of Porter, who resigned when his two ex-wives’ allegations became public last week. Trump on Friday wished Porter well and emphasized that he has maintained his innocence, but did not express any such sympathies for Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, the women who say Porter abused them.
On Saturday, after a second White House aide resigned amid abuse allegations, Trump tweeted in defense of those whose lives he claimed “are being shattered and destroyed by mere allegations.”
During his 2016 campaign, Trump similarly defended men who faced allegations of harassment and abuse. After his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was arrested and charged with battery after a Breitbart reporter accused him of manhandling her, Trump claimed that Lewandowski was protecting him from the reporter’s pen, which he suggested might have been “a little bomb.”
He also defended former Fox News executive Roger Ailes, who stepped down amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who agreed to multiple settlements related to sexual harassment allegations.
Most recently, Trump broke with many in his own party to throw his weight behind former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, whom multiple women accused of pursuing romantic relationships with or making sexual advances toward them when they were teens and he was in his thirties.
“He totally denies it,” Trump said in Moore’s defense in the weeks leading up to the Alabama election, which Moore lost.