Top Trump aide quits over abuse claims
One of President Donald Trump’s top White House aides has resigned following allegations of domestic abuse leveled against him by his two former wives.
Staff secretary Rob Porter said in a written statement on Wednesday that allegations that became public this week are “outrageous” and “simply false”. Porter said photos published of his former spouses — in which one appears to have a black eye — were “given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described”.
Porter added in a written 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 he will leave the White House after a transition period.
Porter’s former wives recounted physical, verbal and emotional abuse they say he subjected them to during their marriages.
Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, told the DailyMail.com that Porter choked and punched her during the five years they were husband and wife.
Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also described for the DailyMail.com how Porter once dragged her naked and wet from the shower to yell at her. She filed a protective order against him. Stories published online by the DailyMail.com included photos of Holderness with a bruised eye socket that she said she suffered after Porter punched her in the face while on vacation in Italy.
Neither could be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Porter, 40, has been credited with working with White House chief of staff John Kelly to control the flow of information to the president. His influence growing in recent months, Porter was often seen with Trump when the president traveled and as he signed legislation or proclamations. He helped craft Trump’s well-received State of the Union address and was credited internally for helping bridge divides in a White House riven by rivalries and for helping more effectively roll out new policy.
The DailyMail.com published a statement from Kelly referring to Porter as a “man of true integrity and honor”, adding, “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 added.
Porter, well-liked throughout the White House, lost internal support once the photos came out. But even then, Kelly was urging him to stay, according to an anonymous White House official. Late on Wednesday, Kelly released a statement claiming “new allegations” had swayed him.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she had not discussed the claims against Porter with Trump. She said Porter was not pressured to resign. “Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and performance,” Sanders said.