By Sarah Gray
February 8, 2018

White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned on Wednesday after two former wives accused him of domestic abuse.

Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the Daily Mail earlier this week that he physically abused her by removing her naked from the shower.

“We were yelling in each other’s faces,” she told The Intercept. “I disengaged and went to take a shower. Rob was not done fighting. He came to the shower and grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me out of the shower to continue arguing.”

Porter’s first wife Colbie Holderness also alleged abuse, saying that it started during their honeymoon in 2003, when he allegedly kicked her, according to interviews she gave to CNN and The Intercept. She also claimed that he hit her on one occasion during a trip to Florence, Italy in 2005.

A photo published by The Intercept allegedly taken after the assault shows her with a black eye.

“The thing he would do most frequently is he would throw me down on a bed and he would just put his body weight on me and he’d be yelling at me but as he was yelling he’d me grinding an elbow or knee into my body to emphasize his anger,” Holderness told CNN. She also said Porter had choked her.

Porter, who served as staff secretary under Chief of Staff John Kelly and was responsible for controlling the flow of documents to President Donald Trump’s desk, has denied the allegations by both of his former wives.

“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter said in a statement. He continued. “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.”

CNN said it spoke to Holderness’s brother Trevor Paulson, who said she had confided in about the abuse. The Intercept also spoke with Trish Stack, a former co-worker, who said Holderness told her about the alleged abuse in 2004 and 2005, and another brother Spencer Paulson, who was told about the alleged abuse in 2006.

Willoughby, who married Porter in 2009, alleges that he violated their separation agreement in 2010 visiting her residence and punching a window. The Washington Post obtained a copy a temporary emergency protective order dated June 2010 that states that there were “reasonable grounds exist to believe that [Porter] has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense.”

She claims he was physical with her only once, but also frequently abused her emotionally.

Willoughby had previously written about the alleged abuse in a blog post published in April 2017 that did not name Porter. She later confirmed to the Daily Mail that it was about him.

In a statement to the Daily Mail on Tuesday, before The Intercept published the photos of Holderness’s black eye on Wednesday, Gen. Kelly defended Porter.

“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly said. “He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Kelly and the president had confidence in Porter, and that his decision to resign was “personal” and “that he was not pressured to do but that he made on his own.”

The FBI interviewed both Holderness and Willoughby during Porter’s background check for a security clearance and they told the agency about the alleged abuse, according to The Intercept. Sanders declined to comment about whether Porter had a security clearance on Wednesday.

It is unclear when Porter will be leaving the White House.


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