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Trump: "I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind"

CBS News logo CBS News 2/14/2018 Kathryn Watson
U.S. President Donald Trump holds a meeting on his infrastructure initiative at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2018.: Trump holds an infrastructure meeting at the White House in Washington © Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS Trump holds an infrastructure meeting at the White House in Washington

President Trump gave his first personal and public condemnation of domestic violence Wednesday since allegations of spousal abuse were levied last week against former White House aide Rob Porter. 

"I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn't even have to be said," the president said in a White House meeting with local government and business leaders about building economic opportunities for low-income communities. "So, now you hear it. But you all know it." 

The president made the remark in response to reporter's questions, as he sat with Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, in the meeting about encouraging economic development in low-income areas. His daughter and aide Ivanka Trump was also in the room. The president has been criticized for failing to mention the ex-wives of Porter who have alleged domestic violence, and for failing — up to this point — to speak out publicly about domestic violence generally.

Trump called Rob Porter a "sick puppy" upon hearing about allegations

Over the weekend, the president, in a vague tweet, lamented a lack of "due process."

As CBS News' Chip Reid reports, the president's failure to condemn domestic violence up to this point has frustrated many in the White House, and has been a regular line of questioning in White House press briefings. 

Questions over what the White House knew about Porter, and when, continue to plague the White House and drive much of the news cycle in Washington. Porter resigned last week. 

The White House has insisted that the White House did not learn about the nature of the allegations against Porter until the Daily Mail published the allegations last week. 

But FBI Director Christopher Wray in testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday contradicted the White House line, saying the FBI completed a background check for security clearance on Porter last July. The White House had said there was no completed background check. 

The White House response to the Porter allegations have particularly touched White House chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn, who were made aware of at least some aspect of the allegations last year. 

Vice President Mike Pence, while in South Korea, said he was "appalled" by the allegations against Porter. 

On Wednesday, Pence also said the White House probably could have handled the matter better. 

"Well, I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter," Pence told NBC's Lester Holt in an interview. "The time that he resigned was when I first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse. There is no tolerance in this White House, no place in America for domestic abuse. That being said, I think the White House has acknowledged that they could have handled it better. And Lester, when I return to Washington, D.C., I'm going to look into the matter. And I'll share my counsel with the president directly."

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