White House communications director Hope Hicks did not participate in many of the discussions surrounding the departure of an embattled former aide with whom she had a romantic relationship, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.
"She was not part of a lot of the conversations that took place," Sanders told reporters at the White House on Tuesday about Hicks, whose relationship with former staff secretary Rob Porter has come under scrutiny amid controversy over the White House handled his resignation last week.
White House aides have struggled to explain when senior staffers — particularly chief of staff John Kelly — learned of the allegations against Porter.
Sanders said the White House's vetting process was still ongoing at the time of Porter's departure, even if the FBI had ruled Porter unfit for a security clearance.
The press secretary defended Hicks as an "important and valuable member of the staff" despite her reported involvement in shaping the controversial White House defense of Porter, whom she was dating at the time.