White House aide resigns after allegations of spousal abuse

White House aide resigns after allegations of spousal abuse

One of President Donald Trump's top White House aides has resigned following allegations of domestic abuse levelled against him by his two ex-wives.


Key points:

  • Rob Porter's ex-wives recount allegations of physical, verbal and emotional abuse
  • Mr Porter says 'outrageous allegations are simply false'
  • White House says Mr Porter was not pressured to resign

Staff secretary Rob Porter said in a written statement allegations that became public this week were "outrageous" and "simply false".

Mr Porter said photos published of his former spouses were taken nearly 15 years ago and did not tell the complete story. He said he would leave the White House after a transition period.

"These outrageous allegations are simply false," Mr Porter said in a written statement.

"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 coordinated smear campaign.

"My commitment to public service speaks for itself. I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect," added Mr Porter, who joined the administration at its start in January 2017.

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House."

His former wives recounted physical, verbal and emotional abuse they say he subjected them to during their marriages.

Mr Porter, 40, has been credited with working with chief of staff John Kelly to control the flow of information to the President.

His influence growing in recent months, Mr Porter was often seen with Mr Trump when the President travelled and as he signed legislation or proclamations.

He helped craft Mr 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 Mr Kelly referring to Mr Porter as a, "man of true integrity and honour 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."

Mr Porter, well-liked throughout the White House, lost internal support once the photos came out. But even then, Mr Kelly was urging him to stay, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to convey internal discussions.

His first wife, Colbie Holderness, told the DailyMail.com Mr Porter choked and punched her during the five years they were husband and wife.

Mr Porter's second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also described for the DailyMail.com how Mr 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 Ms Holderness with a bruised eye socket that she said she suffered after Mr Porter punched her in the face while on vacation in Italy.

Neither Ms Holderness nor Ms Willoughby could be reached for comment on Wednesday. Telephone messages left by The Associated Press were not returned.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she had not discussed the allegations against Mr Porter with Mr Trump. She said Mr Porter was not pressured to resign.

"Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary," Ms Sanders said.

"The President and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance."

AP