In our news wrap Wednesday, President Trump publicly condemned domestic abuse for the first time since aide Rob Porter resigned. House Oversight chair Rep. Trey Gowdy said he’s opening an investigation into how the White House handled Porter’s case. Also, the president’s attorney says he paid $130,000 out of his pocket to a porn star who allegedly had an extramarital affair with Trump in 2006.
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In the day’s other news: President Trump publicly condemned domestic abuse for the first time since a top White House official resigned a week ago. Rob Porter’s two ex-wives have accused him of physical assault during their marriages. Up until now, Mr. Trump has praised Porter and appeared to cast doubt on the accusations.
Today, amid rising criticism, he fielded a question on the issue at a White House meeting.
President Donald Trump:
I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So now you hear it, but you all know it. Thank you all very much.
Earlier, the chair of the Oversight Committee in the House of Representatives, Trey Gowdy, said he’s opening an investigation into how the White House handled the Porter case and his security clearance.
But Vice President Pence defended the chief of staff, John Kelly, saying he’s — quote — “done a remarkable job.”
Meanwhile, a senior aide on the national economic council, George Banks, said that he has resigned after failing to get a permanent security clearance. He told Politico that the White House Counsel’s Office cited his past marijuana use.
The president’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, now says that he paid $130,000 to a porn film star who allegedly had an extramarital affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. The payment was made shortly before the 2016 election. Cohen told The New York Times that the money came out of his own pocket, and that he wasn’t reimbursed by the Trump campaign or company.
He didn’t say why he paid Stephanie Clifford, whose film name is Stormy Daniels. Mr. Trump has denied any affair.
In South Africa, embattled President Jacob Zuma announced tonight that he will resign from office, effective immediately. It came after the ruling African National Congress ordered him to step down in the face of corruption scandals. In a 30-minute televised address, Zuma disputed the accusations against him, and then abruptly called an end to his nearly nine-year rule.
President Jacob Zuman:
I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic of with immediate effect, even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization.
The deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to succeed Zuma.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called today for Iran to withdraw its military forces in Syria. He spoke in Jordan, and said that Iran is destabilizing the region. But Tehran fired back that U.S. forces should leave Syria. Over the weekend, Israel shot down an Iranian drone over the Golan Heights, and Syrian forces shot down an Israeli warplane.
There’s word that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will run for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah. It’s widely reported that the one-time governor of Massachusetts will make his announcement tomorrow. He’d be seeking to fill the seat held by Republican Orrin Hatch, who’s retiring.
On Wall Street today, stocks moved higher for a fourth day, despite a government report that consumer prices rose more than expected last month. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 253 points to close at 24893. The Nasdaq rose 130 points, nearly 2 percent, and the S&P 500 added 35.
And, finally, highlights from day five at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. American snowboarder Shaun White won his third Olympic gold in the men’s halfpipe, and then he faced questions about sexual harassment allegations.
Meanwhile, American luger Emily Sweeney had a scare, crashing on her fourth run of the day. She said she’s sore, but otherwise OK.