White House aide Rob Porter quits as ex-wives allege abuse

Rob Porter
Mr Porter's role in the White House was high level, involving close contact with both the president and his chief of staff John Kelly.

One of US President Donald Trump’s top aides has resigned amid abuse claims from his two ex-wives.

White House staff secretary Rob Porter said “these outrageous allegations are simply false” as he announced he would step down.

The accusations were first reported in the Daily Mail and include accounts of physical and emotional abuse.

The White House would not comment on a report that Mr Porter, 40, failed to receive security clearance.

Colbie Holderness
Colbie Holderness alleged Mr Porter punched her in the face on holiday in Florence, Italy


His ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, both recounted stories of Mr Porter’s alleged misconduct.

His first spouse, Ms Holderness, said the White House aide had been verbally and physically abusive.

Ms Holderness, a US government analyst, said Mr Porter had kicked her on their 2003 honeymoon in the Canary Islands.

She also alleged he punched her in the face while they were on holiday a couple of years later in Florence, Italy.

Ms Holderness supplied a photo of herself with a black eye to the media.

Ms Willoughby, a motivational speaker, told the Daily Mail she was married to Mr Porter from 2009-13.

She wrote about her experiences in a blog post entitled Why I Stayed

She said she filed a protective order against him in June 2010 after he allegedly punched the glass of the door at their Alexandria, Virginia, home.

Mr Porter rejected the allegations in a statement read by the White House press secretary on Wednesday.

“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” he said.

“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.

“I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a co-ordinated smear campaign.”

The Daily Mail reported that Mr Porter did not receive security clearance for his White House job after the FBI interviewed his ex-wives during background checks.

But Mrs Sanders refused to be drawn on that issue.

“Background checks involve a complex investigation run by intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” she told reporters.

“As has always been our policy, we do not comment on security clearances. 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.”

Mr Porter, who attended Harvard with the President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, formerly worked for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

“I am heartbroken by today’s allegations,” Senator Hatch said in a statement.

“In every interaction I’ve had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional, and respectful.

“My staff loved him and he was a trusted advisor.

“I do not know the details of Rob’s personal life.

“Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent. I am praying for Rob and those involved.”

Mr Porter’s role in the White House was high level, involving close contact with both the president and his chief of staff John Kelly.

Before Mr Porter resigned, Mr Kelly told the Daily Mail the staff secretary was “a man of true integrity and honour and I can’t say enough good things about him”.

According to the Mail, Mr Porter has recently been romantically linked with White House communications director Hope Hicks.

Analysis by Tara McKelvey, BBC White House reporter

Rob Porter was a squeaky-clean aide who made sure that papers landing on the president’s desk were in order.

The White House staff secretary also helped the president follow protocol.

At one event in the East Room, for example, Mr Porter stood in the back of the room and gestured to the president, showing him where he was supposed to go in order to sign documents.

Mr Porter’s decision to resign – and the allegations against him – have shocked those who know him.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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