President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to lament that “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation” in the wake of the resignations of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen following allegations of domestic abuse.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” the President tweeted. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Porter abruptly resigned from his post at the White House on Wednesday amid abuse allegations from two ex-wives, who detailed to CNN what they said were years of consistent abuse from Porter, including incidents of physical violence. Porter has denied those allegations, calling them “outrageous allegations are simply false.”
Trump told reporters on Friday that Porter’s departure was “very sad” and that “he did a very good job while he was in the White House.” The President did not express any sympathy for the women Porter allegedly abused, instead focusing on Porter’s claim of innocence.
White House chief of staff John Kelly knew for months about some claims that Porter physically and emotionally battered two ex-wives, yet didn’t conduct an internal investigation into their veracity, sources told CNN. In that time, Porter’s stock in the White House continued to rise. By early fall, it was widely known among Trump’s top aides both that Porter was facing troubles in obtaining a security clearance and that his ex-wives claimed he had abused them. No action was taken to remove him from the staff.
Sorensen also resigned this week after being accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed Friday. Sorensen denied the allegations, saying he has “never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life,” and alleging that he “was the victim of repeated physical violence” during his marriage.
Trump’s tweet drew backlash from some on social media, including third-ranking Senate Democrat Patty Murray.
“Women’s lives are upended every day by sexual violence and harassment. I’m going to keep standing with them, and trusting them, even if the President won’t,” the Washington senator tweeted, along with a subtweet of Trump’s original message.
The Senate’s most senior member, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, also expressed support for victims.
“As a former prosecutor, I’ve been amazed by the bravery & sacrifice required of victims to come forward. Their lives are forever changed,” Leahy tweeted. “Due process is critical, but it can’t be a pretext for not believing women. We don’t need to see photos of bruises to know that.”
Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California slammed the President’s comment, tweeting: “Apparently his motto is when they go low, he goes even lower.”
“I do agree with @POTUS on one thing he said today, #domesticviolence does destroy lives, literally,” she added. “3 American women are murdered every day by their husband or boyfriend.”
Trump’s spoken defense of Porter also drew ire, including from at least one member of his own party. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman tweeted: “The fact that @realDonaldTrump praised Porter and said not a word about his abusive behavior or his former wives is typical of the WH attitude toward women and abuse.”
“Our children must learn a different lesson,” she added.
Trump’s history of lobbing allegations
Despite his call for “due process,” Trump has a history of issuing condemnations and promulgating conspiracies based on “a mere allegation.”
He repeatedly questioned former President Barack Obama’s nationality and the legitimacy of his American birth certificate over the course of several years, tweeting in August 2012 that “an ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” Although he publicly acknowledged Obama’s citizenship in September 2016, Trump reportedly continued to privately question it as recently as November 2017.
In June 2016, Trump faced widespread backlash for alleging that US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was then overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University, had “an inherent conflict of interest” due to his Mexican heritage and calling for his recusal in the case.
“I’m building a wall. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico’s fine,” Trump said. “He’s of Mexican heritage, and he’s very proud of it, as I am of where I come from.”
Curiel was born in Indiana.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump would address massive crowds to chants of “lock her up,” referencing his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The chant stems from questions surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
During the campaign, Trump called Clinton ‘guilty as hell’ and said she should “go to jail” over her email use, citing a potential breach of national security.
However, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not pursue charges against Clinton.
Trump’s tendency to call for justice even if the circumstances seem questionable dates back to well before his time in the political sphere.
Trump pushed for the death penalty in the Central Park Five case, telling Larry King in 1989, “maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.”
At the time, Trump had bought full-page ads that ran in various New York City newspapers that read,”Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!”
Those convicted of the attack on a jogger in Manhattan’s Central Park were exonerated years later after someone else confessed to the crime.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Dan Merica, Jeff Zeleny, Kevin Liptak, Gregory Krieg, Andrew Kaczynski, Jon Sarlin and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.