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White House says Trump ‘shocked’ by allegations against aides

WASHINGTON The White House insisted on Sunday that President Donald Trump was "shocked and disturbed" by allegations of domestic abuse that led two staffers to resign, after he faced flak for insinuating that the claims were possibly false.

Ms Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Mr Trump, said the president pushed the two staffers out the moment he saw credible evidence against them.

Other top White House aides similarly supported Mr Trump's handling of the controversy.

Mr Trump is said to be annoyed by the focus on the latest White House turmoil, especially as it comes on the eve of his release of a major infrastructure spending initiative.

Ms Conway said the job of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was not in jeopardy over his handling of the matter. Critics say he badly mishandled the situation, possibly even exposing one of the ousted aides to the risk of blackmail.

Asked about Mr Trump's tweet on Saturday that lives were being "shattered and destroyed" by allegations that are sometimes false, Ms Conway told CNN that there was "no reason not to believe the women". Yet Mr Trump made no mention of the ex-wives of the two former staffers, or of the alleged abuse.

Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said the president had again shown a total lack of empathy for victims of abuse.

"The lives of survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse are being shattered every day," she wrote on Twitter.

White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned on Friday, while denying his former wife's claims of abuse, and staff secretary Rob Porter, a close Kelly aide, stepped down on Wednesday after abuse allegations from two ex-wives, that he too denied, became public.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat who held the same White House job as Porter under former president Bill Clinton, said: "This guy (Porter) is never going to get a national security clearance, and yet every day he is reading our nation's top secrets and could have been blackmailed."- AFP

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