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Pence is "appalled" by Rob Porter allegations and "going to look into" White House's response

Vice President Mike Pence said he was "appalled" when he first learned about the domestic abuse allegations against now-former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, and is "going to look into the matter" of what the White House and chief of staff John Kelly knew.

Pence, who is in South Korea for the Olympics, said in a preview of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. The same day, back in Washington, D.C., President Trump praised Porter, saying he and the White House "wish him well" in his career, and pointing to Porter's claims of innocence.

Holt asked Pence if he is concerned about what White House chief of staff John Kelly may have known about the allegations and didn't take action against Porter. Porter is accused of kicking and punching his first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second wife, Jennie Willoughby, filed an emergency protective order against him. 

"Well, I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter," Pence told Holt, pausing. "The time that he resigned was when I first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse. There is no tolerance in this White House, no place in America for domestic abuse. That being said, I think the White House has acknowledged that they could have handled it better. And Lester, when I return to Washington, D.C., I'm going to look into the matter. And I'll share my counsel with the president directly."

Pence had previously said that he found out about the Porter situation when he awoke Wednesday on the way to South Korea. Asked why he sometimes seems so unaware of happenings in the White House, Pence simply said it is an honor to serve in the Trump administration. He did not directly answer a question as to whether he believes the president's staff is serving him well, amid reports that Kelly knew about the allegations months before they were public.

"We'll leave those White House staffing matters for when we get back to Washington," he told reporters at the time.

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.