The deputy White House press secretary offered only a vague expression of regret at how the situation was handled. Sources say Kelly knew for months about some claims that Porter physically and emotionally battered the women, yet didn't conduct an internal investigation into their veracity.
Trump wished former White House staff secretary Rob Porter well and applauded the alleged wife beater's work while in the West Wing.
National security lawyer Mark Zaid, who represents government employees going through the security-clearance process, said it is not necessarily sinister that dozens of White House employees lack clearance.
Fallout from the president's defense of Porter was swift with many taking to social media to denounce Trump's remarks because he did not bring up the ex-wives accusing Porter of abuse.
In an interview with CNN, Porter's ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby detailed allegations of abuse, saying that during her marriage she lived under a "low-grade constant terror of not knowing what I might do to set something off".
"He also, as you probably know, says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that", Trump said, adding Porter did "very well" in the White House.
President Trump on disgraded former aide Rob Porter: "He did a very good job while he was in the White House".
'It was very sad when we heard about it and certainly he's also very sad'. He defended Alabama Senate candidate Republican Roy Moore when allegations surfaced that he groped teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Rob Porter left the White House on Thursday but reports suggest some senior officials knew of the accusations for a year. McGahn's knowledge of the accusations in January was first reported by The Washington Post.
Porter has denied the allegations, calling them "outrageous".
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. "He did a very good job when he was at the White House". Porter is having a romantic relationship with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and that relationship led the former girlfriend to come forward, according to White House officials. Both Porter and Carroll were key to the orderly flow of paperwork and information to the President that has streamlined decision-making at the White House, which Kelly has worked to improve since he took over as chief of staff last summer.
"He told the staff he took immediate and direct action", one of the officials said, adding that people after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.
But for White House staff, protected privacy may not cover all the information unearthed during the background check as the process consists of two separate reviews - one for clearance and one for suitability, Zaid said.