Shortly after the Daily Mail published a photo of Rob Porter’s wife with a black eye, the White House arranged an off-the-record briefing with Porter and four reporters, Politico reported Tuesday morning.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders arranged for Porter to tell his side of the story to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, Axios’ Jonathan Swan, and the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender, according to Politico.
The Daily Mail published the photo of Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, with a black eye on Wednesday of last week, after publishing an account of abuse from Porter’s second wife on Tuesday.
The news that Sanders arranged a briefing between Porter and several reporters on Wednesday calls into question chief of staff John Kelly’s reported claim that he asked for Porter’s resignation 40 minutes after he learned the extent of allegations against the former staff secretary. Several reports have indicated that Kelly and White House Counsel Don McGahn were aware of the allegations against Porter before the story went public.
Porter announced his resignation on Wednesday after both of his ex-wives accused him of verbal and physical abuse. Porter has denied the claims, and the White House at first publicly stood behind him when the allegations became public. After more details about the allegations surfaced, however, the White House changed its tune and pushed for Porter to depart the White House swiftly. The White House has since acknowledged that it could have handled the situation better, but President Donald Trump has continued to defend Porter.