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What Donald Trump gets dead wrong in his Rob Porter defense

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump was asked his thoughts on the departure of White House staff secretary Ro...

Posted: Feb 10, 2018 8:07 AM
Updated: Feb 10, 2018 8:07 AM

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump was asked his thoughts on the departure of White House staff secretary Rob Porter amid a series of allegations of domestic abuse from his ex-wives.

"He says he's innocent and I think you have to remember that," Trump replied. "He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent but you'll have to talk to him about that."

Uh, what?

Remember that both of Porter's ex-wives have come forward to insist he subjected them to physical and mental abuse in their relationships. A third woman, who said she dated Porter in 2016, reached out to Porter's exes to confirm that she, too, had been abused by him. There is a picture of Porter's first wife with a black eye; he has offered no alternative explanation for that happened. Porter reached out to his second wife trying to moderate the language she used in a blog post describing Porter's abuse (although not naming him).

This is not a he-said, she-said situation. It's a he-said, she-said, she-said, she-said, the-picture-said situation. Along with Porter's attempts to make the blog post less damaging to his career.

This is a familiar pattern for Trump. When a series of women came out during the 2016 campaign alleging that he has sexually abused them, he flatly denied it -- insisting that all of the women were conspiring to hurt him for political reasons. When a series of women came forward and said that Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore had pursued physical relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his mid 30s, Trump defended his endorsement of Moore, saying: "He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen."

Of course, Trump's view on the power of denials does not extend to his political opponents. Trump regularly insisted that Hillary Clinton should be jailed for her use of a private email server. Fired FBI Director James Comey is a liar and a criminal. Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe is corrupt. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner is in cahoots with the Russians. On and on and on.

The broader point here is that Trump simply does not believe in the idea that the President has to be a moral leader first and a political leader second.

From his comments about violence on "both sides" in the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville to his feud with the widow of a military veteran -- and a dozen other examples over Trump's first year in office -- it's clear that his first calculation, always, is "How does this affect me?"

While all presidents -- and people -- have self-interest somewhere in their mind when making decisions, the men who have held the job before Trump generally speaking sought to put the good of the country over what was good for them personally.

Trump does not do that. Never has. Never will.

In his mind, the Porter situation then isn't a chance to seize the moral high ground and speak to the country about the issue of domestic abuse. It's an opportunity to defend someone who is loyal to him and who -- maybe just maybe despite all the facts to the contrary -- is being skewered unfairly by a biased media jumping to conclusions. It's also a necessity -- because acknowledging that these allegations against Porter seem quite credible would be to re-open the legitimacy of all of the accusations made by women against Trump.

And so, Trump makes zero mention of the three women at the center of this whole thing -- two of whom have come forward publicly to speak about the alleged abuse. His focus is entirely on Porter and the possibility that he just might not have dome these things.

"We certainly wish him well," Trump said of Porter. "It's obviously a very tough time for him. He did a very good job while he was in the White House. We hope that he will have a wonderful career."

So. Tone. Deaf.

Why is the President of the United States wishing a man -- who faces very credible accusations of beating at least three women -- well? Why is the focus on Porter and not on the women? Who cares whether Porter will have a "wonderful career" at this point?

The answer to all of those questions is that to acknowledge any of this is bad for Donald Trump. And he simply does not do things that are bad for him. Whether or not they are the right thing to do.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15523

Reported Deaths: 734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18018

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
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