White House aide resigns amid allegations that he abused ex-wives

White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday following reports published in the Daily Mail that he abused two ex-wives. 

One ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, alleged Porter had choked, punched and emotionally abused her during their five-year marriage. Holderness told her story to the Daily Mail, providing photos that featured her with a black eye.

Another ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the same publication that Porter verbally abused her on their 2009 honeymoon and once dragged her out of the shower.

Porter called the allegations "outrageous" and "simply false." 

"I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described," Porter said in a statement. "I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."

Porter said his commitment to public service "speaks for itself." 

According to the White House, Porter's resignation won't be immediate, and he will await a successor.

The resignation "was a personal decision that Rob made," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, adding that he was not pressured to do so.

As staff secretary, Porter is responsible for the flow of presidential paperwork around the West Wing and to the president’s desk. The job is an important gatekeeper to the Oval Office, ensuring that executive orders, decision memos, bills, nominations and other actions are thoroughly vetted before reaching the president.

But Porter has had a higher profile than previous staff secretaries, often accompanying Trump on official travel.

Like all White House employees, Porter would have had to undergo an FBI background check in order to get a security clearance. Sanders declined to comment on whether the allegations would affect Porter’s clearance.

Holderness told the Daily Mail she met Porter at a Mormon church in 2000, while they were both in college. They married three years later, while Porter was a Rhodes scholar.

His abuse started on their honeymoon, she said.

"It was a really odd thing that he did. He was angry because we weren’t having sex when he wanted to have sex and he kicked me," she said. "It seems such a juvenile thing at the time, but I remember thinking about words my mother had told me when it happened."

 

From there, it escalated, and Porter allegedly choked and punched his wife. Holderness said she didn't go to the police because she didn't think she would be believed.

After Porter and Holderness divorced, Porter went on to date and marry Willoughby. They were married from 2009 to 2013.

She told the Daily Mail that Porter turned verbally abusive on their honeymoon.

"I can’t remember what triggered it," she said. "He lashed out and was really angry and both under his breath and explicitly to me called me a 'f***ing b***h' and 'f***ing ridiculous.' He accused me of not caring about him or his needs."

During their marriage, Willoughby filed a protective order against Porter.

© 2018 USATODAY.COM


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