GOP women frustrated by Trump’s approach to allegations of abuse
WASHINGTON — The Trump White House’s handling of abuse charges against men in its midst is frustrating prominent Republican women as the party’s yearslong struggle to attract female voters stretches into the 2018 midterm elections.
“It’s the mixed signals. They’ve just got to be stronger, more consistent, clearer in the message” to women, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Tuesday. “It’s difficult being a Republican woman to have to fight through that all the time.”
The thrice-married Trump added a new chapter to his difficult history with female voters in the past week by refusing to offer public words of support to the ex-wives of two senior presidential aides. Rob Porter, the president’s staff secretary, resigned last week after ex-wives Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby came forward with allegations of abuse. DailyMail.com published photos of Holderness with a black eye. Porter denied harming either of them.
A second White House official, Trump speechwriter David Sorensen, left the White House last Friday after his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, described physical abuse that included being thrown into a wall and burned by a cigarette. He too denied the allegations.
But Trump has had only good things to say about Porter and voiced sympathy for him.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new,” Trump said in a tweet Saturday. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
But House Republicans are investigating how Porter was allowed to work at the White House under an interim security clearance despite the abuse allegations. Questions about Trump’s approach sparked exasperation.
“C’mon, clearly we all should be condemning domestic violence,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters, rolling his eyes. “And if a person who commits domestic violence gets in the government then there’s a breakdown in the system” that needs to be addressed.
“I’m extremely disappointed in this situation. Abuse is never OK,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on CNN Tuesday.
The president still hammers at his vanquished 2016 rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. His support among Republicans wavered just before Election Day with the release of an “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women by their genitals. And more than a dozen women have accused Trump of harassing or assaulting them. Trump called them liars and said he’d sue them — though that hasn’t happened.