Domestic violence

Top Trump aide abruptly resigns amid spousal abuse claims by ex-wives

Ex-White House staff secretary Rob Porter.(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

A top White House aide abruptly resigned on Wednesday after two of his ex-wives came forward with explosive claims of spousal abuse. Rob Porter stepped down from his position as White House staff secretary, but disputed the accusations made against him, saying in a statement, “These outrageous allegations are simply false. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign,” CNN reported.

The unexpected resignation stemmed from a story published by The Daily Mail in which Porter’s ex-wife, Colbie Holderness, opened up about Porter’s alleged physical and mental abuse during her five-year marriage to him. Holderness, 37, who works as a senior analyst for the U.S. government, told the Mail. “In a sense I couldn’t believe it was happening to me — I was a well-educated woman, he was well-educated man, we came from good families. It just didn’t seem real. I think I was in denial.” She said Porter’s alleged abuse “was scary but it wasn’t like it was life-threatening,” and added, “At times, the way he would be physically violent with me was very odd. He would throw me down on the bed, then put his full body weight on top of me, then grind a knee or elbow into my body, expressing rage.”

But Holderness also said that Porter’s rage left her with some visible injuries. She said that during a vacation to Florence, Italy, the two had an argument and Porter punched her in the face, leaving her with a black eye. She shared a photo she took after the alleged incident with the Mail and said, “I didn’t go the police because I was scared, I was in Italy alone and I didn’t know what to do.” Holderness also said she didn’t report any of the abuse to the police in the U.S. over concerns that authorities wouldn’t believe her. Porter said that the photo Holderness shared was taken 15 years ago and doesn’t accurately represent what actually happened.

Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, also spoke to the Mail, and painted a similar frightening portrait of a man with a dark personality and explosive temper, and less than a year into the marriage, she filed for a protective order after he punched a window in a fit of anger. Willoughby, 39, alleged that around the time of their first anniversary, the two got into an argument and she eventually walked away and took a shower in the hopes that the disagreement would end there.

“He was not done fighting with me,” she recalled. “It was a glass shower door, he opened it and dragged me by my shoulders out of the shower to yell. Immediately upon seeing my reaction to that, he released me and apologized but it doesn’t take away that he was angry enough that that happened.”

Despite all she’s been through with Porter, including some confrontations after the marriage with him dissolved, Willoughby still has some complicated feelings about him, and thinks he should’ve remained in his job. “I don’t want to be married to him. I would not recommend anyone to date him or marry him. But I definitely want him in the White House and the position he is in,” Willoughby told the Mail. “I think his integrity and ability to do his job is impeccable. And the majority of the issues he suffers from are very personal and intimate.”

She shares that sentiment with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and others in the Trump administration, who urged him not to resign.

“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor 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,” Kelly said, according to CNN.

Porter, 40, is a Harvard Law School graduate and a Rhodes scholar. Prior to his White House job, he worked for Republican Senators Orrin Hatch, Rob Portman and Mike Lee. He has been romantically-linked to White House communications director Hope Hicks. The FBI is now looking into the claims against Porter. For more on the story, watch the CNN report below.

Read the full story at The Daily Mail.

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