Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post / Getty Images

President Trump is defending Rob Porter even though, privately, he says he’s guilty.

Behind closed doors: The president has told multiple people that he believes the accusations about Porter, and finds him “sick.”

Four sources who have spoken directly with Trump tell me his private comments about ex-aide Porter — whose two ex-wives accused of violent attacks — have been brutal.

But his public comments don’t reflect that, at all.

  • This is the strongest indicator yet that Trump will reflexively defend his male allies from any and all accusations, even when he thinks those accusations are true.
  • Trump tells friends that he deplores the #MeToo movement and believes it unfairly exposes CEOs to lawsuits from their female employees. The fact that women frequently face sexual predation in the workplace doesn’t impact his view on this.

Behind-the-scenes: Porter appears to have crossed Trump’s red line. In the Oval Office, Trump read a print-out of the Daily Mail story with incredulity. He quickly turned on Porter. Trump said he was shocked that this clean-cut Harvard guy with the perfectly parted hair — “straight out of central casting” — could have violently attacked women.

Over the last few days, the president has told associates he believes Porter’s ex-wives’ accusations.

Trump has also told associates that he views men who beat their wives the same way he views child molesters: as “sick puppies.” (This sits uncomfortably beside the fact that Trump stood by accused child molester Roy Moore.)

He thinks there’s something wrong with them [men who attack their wives] and they never change... He thinks they can’t be reformed.
One source who has spoken with Trump about Porter.

But — at least in Porter’s case — he’ll still publicly back them up. On Friday, Trump expressed sympathy for Porter, praised his White House work, and made no mention of the women who say he attacked them.

Go deeper

GAO finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible for top DHS roles

Photo: CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to be serving in their positions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided in a report released Friday.

Why it matters: While the finding has no immediate power, it could be important evidence in litigation over policies enacted under Wolf and Cuccinelli's leadership, said America's Voice's Ur Jaddou, who served as chief counsel to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under President Obama.

The many divisions over Trump's methane rollback

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

EPA's decision to cut regulation of methane is laying bare an oil-and-gas industry divide and setting the stage for political battles this fall and beyond.

Why it matters: Methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas and the industry is a key emissions source.

Kushner says Trump didn't promote false Kamala Harris birtherism theory

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told "CBS This Morning" on Friday that he does not believe President Trump promoted a baseless claim that Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible to be vice president.

Driving the news: During a press briefing on Thursday, Trump did not question the veracity of a Newsweek op-ed that inaccurately claimed Harris may be ineligible for the office due to her parents' naturalization status at the time of her birth. Harris is an American citizen and was born in Oakland, Calif.