On Wednesday, February 7th, top White House aide Rob Porter resigned amid abuse allegations from two ex-wives. The senior White House aide served as staff secretary and worked closely with Chief of Staff John Kelly. Earlier this week, the abuse allegations came to light after The Daily Mail reported detailed accounts of physical abuse from both his first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second wife, Jennifer Willoughby. Rob Porter denies the allegations, telling The Daily Mail, “I will not comment about these matters, beyond stating that many of these allegations are slanderous and simply false.”
The White House remains defensive of Rob Porter. The staff secretary allegedly never received full FBI clearance. Both ex-wives told the Washington Post that they had told the FBI about his abuse during their marriages. Well into Fall it became known among top Trump aides, including Chief of Staff John Kelly, that he hadn’t received full clearance and that his ex-wives had abuse allegations against him. Rob Porter still wasn’t fired.
After the allegations came to light, John Kelly came to Porter’s defense in an initial statement on Tuesday, stating, “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him.” By Wednesday, Kelly had released a new statement but still stood by Porter. “I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” Kelly said, adding, “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also came to the defense of Rob Porter, stating, “I have worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year, and the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character. Those of us who have the privilege of knowing him are better people because of it.”
The exit of Porter seems to have major impact on the Trump Administration’s inner circle. Porter was seen as respectable and as one to keep the peace, alongside John Kelly, in an arguably chaotic administration. As another Trump staffer leaves, both the White House and right-wing news outlets remain allusive about the domestic abuse scandal. As of 9:00 am Thursday morning, Fox News had only mentioned Porter a handful of times, and not one of those times was on the network’s prime time lineup.
Like many of this administration’s scandals, this is a personal one regarding yet another aide who works closely with the President. As the story develops, the GOP — who pride themselves on being the party of family values — has yet to speak out against or disavow a man with multiple domestic abuse allegations against him.
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