Trump 'shows great compassion' for women, Kellyanne Conway says

David Sorensen

And at this point, it's looking more and more hard to see how he'll survive.

But later in the day, the White House dealt far more aggressively with another allegation of abuse. Some aides in that meeting privately questioned Kelly's account, thinking his version of events was self-serving, according to one official with knowledge of the meeting but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

It's extremely hard to square that statement with everything we know.

Reeling from the downfall of a senior aide, the White House is on the defensive, attempting to soften President Donald Trump's comments about the mistreatment of women while rallying around the embattled chief of staff.

More importantly, though, the fact that this leaked out so quickly suggests Kelly has lost the confidence of his staff.

Those efforts appear to have succeeded for months, at least in part because of the willingness of a virtually all-male staff in the top echelons of the West Wing to believe a talented male colleague over women they had never met.

Conway, however, said Trump is "very disturbed" by Porter's alleged behavior, a remark that White House legislative affairs director Marc Short echoed on Sunday.

A second White House official has resigned following allegations of domestic violence. Public pressure is one thing, but the White House has often proven itself to be impervious to it, through any number of highly controversial episodes that might have torn apart a previous administration.

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If this were just about the public or just about Trump, Kelly would have a much better chance of survival. Porter said he would be resigning from his role at the White House shortly after and has called the allegations "outrageous" and "simply false". Most West Wing offices remained dark.

Kelly began telling people at the White House on Thursday that he had learned the details of Porter's situation only "40 minutes before he threw him out" two days earlier, before pictures of Porter's bruised ex-wife began circulating.

The problem for Kelly with the Porter scandal is that it's a succession of multiplying errors.

Trump's tweet also struck a nerve with people who noted that assault survivors have their lives "shattered", too. They responded as if they knew it all was baseless and that Porter was above reproach.

Apart from disbelief, the White House also has showed ambivalence about allegations of mistreatment of women: Steve Bannon was brought on as Trump's chief strategist despite misdemeanor charges in a 1996 domestic violence case. We have to look at the full picture.

This all feels nearly like an intervention to prevent the White House from digging even more of a hole.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is attending the Olympics in South Korea, tried to distance himself from the issue, but also stressed in an NBC interview that "there is no tolerance in this White House , no place in America for domestic abuse".

Speier feels Trump's lack of defense of victims runs contrary to the momentum behind more people speaking out against violence against women.

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