During his press briefing on Thursday, White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters that he and others, such as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, could have done better in dealing with the controversy surrounding White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
CNN's Jim Acosta asked Shah how Sanders, chief of staff John Kelly, and others at the White House could continue standing behind Porter after he acknowledged taking pictures of one of his ex-wives with a blackened eye.
“I think it's fair to say that we all could have done better over the ... last few days in dealing with this situation,” he said.
He noted, however, that the Porter described in news reports was not the one he encountered at the White House.
Shah also refused to tell the press whether or not Kelly knew about allegations that Porter physically abused his two ex-wives.
“I'm not going to get into the specifics,” Shah said when Fox News' John Roberts asked him whether Kelly knew in November.
Shah did say Kelly became “fully aware” of the allegations on Wednesday when Porter denied the allegations and indicated he would resign.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter said.
Both of his ex-wives — Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby — accused Porter of physically abusing them. Holderness provided the Daily Mail with photos of herself with blackened eyes, something Porter suggested was not his doing.
Kelly caught criticism after he called Porter a “man of true integrity and honor.”
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional,” Kelly said.
Kelly later said he stood by his comments but conveyed his “shock” at the allegations against Porter.
After the FBI interviewed Holderness, Porter reportedly didn't receive the clearance he needed for his job at the White House.
In his opening statement on Thursday, Shah emphasized the importance of letting the government's background investigation into Porter continue.
Shah noted that the background check process didn't finish before Porter's resignation. Porter, Shah said, worked on an interim security clearance.
“We should not short-circuit an investigation just because allegations are made, unless they could compromise national security or interfere with operations at the White House. The truth must be determined,” he said.