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White House says Trump 'has confidence' in John Kelly

Updated 4:46 PM ET, Tue February 13, 2018

Washington (CNN) - White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that President Donald Trump "has confidence" in his chief of staff John Kelly.

"The President has confidence in his chief of staff," Sanders said as she faced a barrage of questions from reporters about the White House's and Kelly's handling of allegations of domestic abuse against a senior aide, Rob Porter.

The vote of confidence came hours after FBI Director Chris Wray said Tuesday that the FBI briefed the White House four times on its background investigation into Porter before the abuse allegations surfaced publicly and forced Porter's resignation last week. The White House had previously claimed that it only became aware of the extent of the allegations against Porter -- which his two ex-wives shared with FBI investigators early last year -- last week.

Sanders said Tuesday that the FBI shared its findings with the White House personnel security office, but she could not definitively say whether the office had shared the findings with any West Wing officials.

"I'm not aware of any communication," Sanders said. "I can't say definitively, but I'm not aware of any communication."

And while she confirmed that she spoke with Kelly and white House counsel Don McGahn, whose role in the handling of the allegations has also drawn scrutiny, Sanders could not definitely say when the two learned of the allegations of domestic abuse.

Sanders maintained that Kelly learned of the allegations last week when the allegations became public, though she underlined her response by noting that "that's my understanding."

Sanders' briefing on Tuesday did little to alleviate the questions and concerns surrounding Kelly's role overall with Porter. CNN has previously reported that Kelly knew of the allegations Porter was facing months before they became public.


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