Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said at his debut White House briefing that domestic abuse allegations against staff secretary Rob Porter are "serious and disturbing," and that the officials "could have done better" in handling the situation.

Why it matters: The White House has been criticized on its handling of the allegations against Porter and his resignation. Axios' Jonathan Swan reported on Wednesday that he was encouraged "to stay and fight." Chief of staff John Kelly released two statements regarding Porter: the first saying he was a "man of true integrity," and the second saying he was "shocked" by the allegations.

  • Shah said Kelly "became fully aware of these allegations [against Rob Porter] yesterday."
  • President Trump was "saddened" by the allegations: "He, like many of us, did not see that in Rob Porter."
  • When the allegations were made to the FBI about domestic abuse, Porter was "operating on an interim security clearance," and the background investigation had not been completed.
  • He said "the communications director [Hope Hicks]" recused herself from "some matters" regarding Porter.

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - World

At least 100 killed, much of Beirut destroyed in massive explosion

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion Beirut, Lebanon has killed at least 100 people and injured over 4,000, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for over six years.

Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

An election like no other

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus will make the 2020 presidential election different from any in modern history: Voting that begins earlier, results that take longer, mail carriers as virtual poll workers and October Surprises that pop in September.

The big picture: Perhaps 80 million Americans will vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, tells Axios. That's going to set up more of an Election Season than an Election Day — and increase the odds of national turmoil over the vote count.