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White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 10:20 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:29 PM

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) waves to journalists as he and Staff Secretary Rob Porter leave the White House with President Donald Trump November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kelly and Porter accompanied Trump to St. Charles, Missouri, for a speech and rally.  
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) waves to journalists as he and Staff Secretary Rob Porter leave the White House with President Donald Trump November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kelly and Porter accompanied Trump to St. Charles, Missouri, for a speech and rally.  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

UPDATE: The White House announced Friday that Derek Lyons will replace former Staff Secretary Rob Porter on an interim basis. 

Read the original report below.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah admitted Thursday during the administration’s daily press briefing that White House officials “could have done better” in how they handled abuse allegations against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter.

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"I think it's fair to say we all could have done better dealing with this over the last few days," Shah said.

Porter resigned Wednesday and quickly left the White House Thursday after domestic abuse allegations by his two ex-wives surfaced in a British tabloid. Porter has denied the claims.

White House officials first defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations on Monday and Tuesday.

"Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him,” White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a statement Tuesday. “He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”

Then a photo of one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye was released Wednesday in addition to the British tabloid story published on Monday and Tuesday in The Daily Mail, and Kelly seemed to walk back his comments about Porter.

By Wednesday night, Kelly released a second statement, amid reports that administration officials kept Porter on the job despite being aware of the alleged abuse. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told CNN they were contacted by the FBI last year while Porter was applying for a security clearance to work at the White House. At least one of the women told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence, according to CNN.

>> Related: John Kelly: Civil War caused by 'lack of ability to compromise'

“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” Kelly said Wednesday night. “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”

President Donald Trump speaks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (C) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) as they return to the White House December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump traveled to Utah to announce his plan to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.  (Pool/Getty Images)

Shah, trying to clean up the mess Thursday during his first turn at the briefing podium, would not confirm if Kelly knew about the allegations before this week and, if so, for how long. But critics insist Kelly must have known something because Porter never received full security clearance -- only a temporary clearance, an unusual situation for an aide inside the president’s inner circle.

"He became fully aware of these allegations yesterday," Shah said of Kelly, later adding that he had "not seen images prior to the statement on Tuesday night," referring to the picture of one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye.

Shah defended the administration, claiming it wasn’t the photographic evidence of the alleged abuse that changed Trump officials’ tone toward Porter.

“We do take allegations of misconduct, of domestic violence, other issues like that very seriously,” he said. “In this instance, in the case of Rob Porter, we relied on the background check investigative process. That process hadn't been completed. We're relying on the information that we had.” 

>> Related: Trump says he's not a feminist: 'I'm for everyone'

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and, during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

>> Related: #Swatgate: Did Melania Trump just slap the president's hand away?

The couple was divorced in 2013.

 Porter, 40, is a former chief of ctaff for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Harvard graduate and a former Rhodes Scholar.

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Subtropical Storm Alberto strengthens bringing gusty winds, heavy rains, storm surge to Gulf region

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 10:31 AM

What are Tropical Storms?

Tropical storm warnings are up across Florida and along parts of the Gulf Coast as Subtropical Storm Alberto lumbers across the Gulf of Mexico ruining Memorial Day holiday plans for thousands of vacationers.

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Update May 27, 2018 5:05 p.m. EDT: Subtropical Storm Alberto continues to move north, north west with no change in strength.

The Tropical Storm Warning along the west coast of Florida south of the Anclote River has ended, according to the National Hurricane Center

The Storm Surge Warning for the northern Gulf Coast of west of Navarre, Florida has ended. 

Update May 27, 2018 11 a.m. EDT: Subtropical Storm Alberto is strengthening with wind speeds clocked at 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, or NHC. The storm is moving north at 14 mph and it’s located about 130 miles southwest of Tampa.

Isolated tornadoes are possible as Alberto closes in on the region. Forecasters are predicting Alberto will make landfall sometime late Sunday or Monday, bringing gusty winds, heavy rain, flash flooding and storm surge to parts of the Gulf Coast.

>> Related: Alberto: PBC saw up to 3 inches of rain last night; expect more Sunday

“Alberto is expected to produce heavy rainfall with a risk of flooding and flash flooding over western Cuba, the Florida Keys and south Florida today. The risk for heavy rainfall and flooding will then spread over much of the southeast U.S. tonight and Monday,” according to the NHC.

The NHC is warning of “dangerous surf and rip current conditions” along parts of the eastern and northern Gulf Coast through Monday.

 

>> Related: Alberto starts to bring rain to Central Florida as storm moves north

(Previous Story)

A tropical storm warning has been issued for parts of the Florida Gulf Coast including from Bonita Beach to the Anclote River as well as north near the Aucilla River to the Mississippi/Alabama border, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

Heavy rainfall is expected as the storm, with sustained winds of 40 mph, continues to move at 13 mph through the Dry Tortugas. 

Five day forecast map. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

A storm surge watch has also been issued for parts of Florida and the Mississippi/Alabama border, officials said

The latest forecast ends the tropical storm and storm surge watch for parts of Louisiana. 

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Former President George H.W. Bush back in the hospital in Maine with low blood pressure

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 2:28 PM

Biography of George H.W. Bush

Former President George H.W. Bush is back in the hospital, according to a family spokesman.

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Bush was taken to Southern Maine Health Care Sunday “after experiencing low blood pressure and fatigue,” his spokesman Jim McGrath said on Twitter.

The former president is described as “awake and alert” and will probably remain hospitalized for a few days for observation, McGrath said.


Bush was most recently hospitalized in Houston on April 22, one day after the funeral and burial of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.

During that hospital stay, he was diagnosed with an infection that had spread to his blood, doctors said at the time, but he recovered and eventually went home.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush remains hospitalized; doctors 'very pleased' with progress, spokesman says

At the time he said he was looking forward to visiting the family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush was out and about Saturday, marking the Memorial Day holiday, joining a group of veterans at American Legion Post 159 for a pancake breakfast in Kennebunkport.

“Delighted to join the veterans, including my dear friend Gen. Brent Scowcroft,” Bush tweeted.

>> Related: George H.W. Bush: 9 things to know about the 41st president of the United States

Scowcroft was National Security Adviser during the presidencies of both Bush and Gerald Ford.

“This weekend we remember, and thank, all who have given their lives for our great country,” he said Saturday.

George Bush has a form of Parkinson's disease and uses a motorized scooter or wheelchair to get around. 

He was the youngest naval aviator when he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, spurred by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He flew 58 combat missions during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.

>> Related: PHOTOS: George H. W. Bush through the years

He had six children with Barbara Bush, and in 1989, he became the first sitting vice president to secure the presidency since 1837.

Former United States President George H. W. Bush prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before game five of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas.(Pool/Getty Images)

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12-year-old's foot possibly bitten by shark in Florida

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 2:35 AM

A boy was standing in waist-deep water on Daytona Beach when something bit him on the foot, “presumably a shark,” officials said. (File photo)
A boy was standing in waist-deep water on Daytona Beach when something bit him on the foot, “presumably a shark,” officials said. (File photo)

A 12-year-old boy was bitten on the foot by something, possibly a shark, while bathing on Daytona Beach, Fla., Saturday afternoon, Volusia County Beach Safety officials said. 

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The Gainesville boy was standing in waist-deep water around 2 p.m. at a beach when something bit him on the foot, “presumably a shark,” officials said. 

The boy’s injury was minor, officials said, but he was transported to a nearby hospital as a precaution. 

Beach safety officials said the beaches were crowded. 

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Delta debuts uniforms in ‘Passport Plum’ with launch Tuesday

Published: Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 4:08 PM

Kyandra Ravenel, a Delta airlines flight attendant, walks the runway during the uniform fitting for Delta employees at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
Reann Huber/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Kyandra Ravenel, a Delta airlines flight attendant, walks the runway during the uniform fitting for Delta employees at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.(Reann Huber/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Delta Air Lines is about to debut its new uniforms for flight attendants and other employees with designer Zac Posen.

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Atlanta-based Delta has been preparing for months for the Tuesday launch of the new uniforms.

Posen will make an appearance at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Monday afternoon, around the same time that the first crew wearing the new uniforms for the debut will take off in Singapore for a flight to Tokyo. By that time, it will be early Tuesday morning in Singapore.

Posen will then appear at a Delta fashion show at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport early Tuesday morning in Atlanta, as employees don the new uniforms on flights and at airports across the carrier’s operations.

>> Related: Delta to debut new uniforms across airline in May

While Delta employees have for years worn dark blue and red uniforms, the new collection includes a color the airline dubs “Passport Plum.”

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