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The mayor said he understands the sudden media scrutiny on this issue, but asked observers to recognize numerous appointees who have been “incredibly worthy.”

“I don’t think a process should be evaluated on the basis of one person,” he said.

Although Mr. Murphy sat at the front of the room on Wednesday, Ms. Pringle did not attend the news conference.

Mr. Gray said she was not asked to stay away.

Hiring practices have played an unusually large role in the first year of Mr. Gray’s term.

He fired his first chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, in March amid a firestorm of scrutiny about alleged nepotism, illegally high salaries and improper vetting of political appointees. A special D.C. Council committee investigated the claims and issued a critical report last month.