Updated Feb 8, 2018

White House: Allegations against Porter are "serious and disturbing"

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.

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 38 mins ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins