Rob Porter, a top aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly responsible for the paper flow to President Trump’s desk, announced Wednesday that he would resign following accusations of domestic abuse from two former wives.
In an article published Tuesday on DailyMail.com, Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, his second wife, said he was physically and emotionally abusive.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter, who is currently dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, said in a statement.
After the initial reports of the abuse allegations surfaced Tuesday against Porter, both Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued statements supporting him.
“Consistent with the practice of past administrations, issues related to an individual’s suitability are reviewed through a thorough and lengthy background check process,” Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance.”
Huckabee Sanders told DailyMail.com: “I have worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year and the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character.”
Kelly said that he’s proud to work with Porter, 40, a rising star in the Trump administration.
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him,” Kelly said in a statement on Tuesday.
For an article published Wednesday on Intercept.com, Holderness provided photos of injuries including a black eye.
Senior White House aide Rob Porter physically assaulted two ex-wives, they tell @theintercept. Full story to come in the morning.
His first wife, Colbie Holderness, provided these photos from a vacation they took together in Florence, Italy: pic.twitter.com/tl3TbyGA8Y
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 7, 2018
After Porter resigned on Wednesday amid the scandal, Kelly issued a new statement, but doubled down on his admiration for the top aide.
“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” he said.
“I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation,” he continued. “I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”
However, multiple people in the White House were aware of the allegations before the media reported them.
According to CBS News: “In a June 2010 statement to authorities in Arlington, Va., Willoughby said Porter punched the glass on their front door. ‘I called the police,’” she wrote. ‘I was afraid he would break in.’
“Willoughby wrote on Instagram in April 2017: ‘Just after our one-year anniversary, he pulled me, naked and dripping, from the shower to yell at me … When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career. And so I kept my mouth shut and stayed.’”
When the FBI conducted a background check on Porter last year, the bureau learned of his reported history of domestic abuse, according to Intercept.com.
Activist Michael Skolnik tweeted:
The White House covered for a man who beat women. A national disgrace.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) February 8, 2018