White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday after his two ex-wives came forward with abuse allegations.
- Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, alleged in an interview published Wednesday by the Daily Mail that he kicked her on their honeymoon, progressing to choking and punching her in the face. She provided pictures that were published with the story.
- Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the Daily Mail earlier this week that he pulled her naked from the shower shortly after their first anniversary, and that he was verbally abusive. The Daily Mail also obtained a police complaint from 2010 of Porter allegedly punching the glass on a door at their home, which led to her filing a temporary protective order.
- Willoughby told the Daily Mail that the FBI had interviewed her, along with Holderness. The Daily Mail claimed sources told them that Porter’s “dark past” was the reason for his failure to secure security clearances.
Porter was no minor White House player. He and Chief of Staff John Kelly were in charge of reviewing all information before it reached President Trump. Porter served as Sen. Orrin Hatch’s chief of staff before entering the White House.
Porter had good relationships across the ideological spectrum of the White House — from Stephen Miller to Gary Cohn, was one of Kelly’s most trusted aides and was in charge of the weekly trade policy meetings.
And… he is the boyfriend of 26 year old White House communications director and former model, Hope Hicks. Hmmmmmm.
Kelly issued a memo Thursday night to White House staff saying in part: “While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence very seriously.”
But Kelly is under fire for not taking action sooner and for initially defending Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor.
White House Counsel Donald McGahn knew one year ago that staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives were prepared to make damaging accusations about him that could threaten his security clearance but allowed him to serve as an influential gatekeeper and aide to President Trump without investigating the accusations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Kelly learned this fall about the allegations of spousal abuse and that they were delaying Porter’s security clearance amid an ongoing FBI investigation. But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.
The episode has thrust Trump’s senior-most aides, many of whom have already been embroiled in controversy related to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, into yet another crisis.
McGahn and other West Wing officials are under increasing pressure to explain why Porter was kept in a key role in which he had access to classified information and helped determine which articles and policy proposals made it to the president’s desk while top Trump officials were aware for months of at least some of the serious allegations against him. Which raises a question….
If Trump didn’t know Porter didn’t have clearance, that means someone gave Porter classified material without him being cleared to see it and without Trump waiving that clearance. Isn’t that illegal? pic.twitter.com/vpkN33tvrY
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) February 9, 2018
Trump doesn’t read anyway.
The Daily Beast is reporting that the White House treated this, earlier this week, as a “smear campaign” orchestrated by former Trump campaign manager (and current outside adviser to the president) Corey Lewandowski.
President Donald Trump has grown increasingly frustrated with Hope Hicks, his communications director and one of his closest confidantes, amid the fallout from the Rob Porter scandal, people familiar with the matter say.
Meanwhile, the President has told associates he’s dismayed at how the allegations involving his former staff secretary accused of domestic abuse were handled, but he isn’t certain how to solve the mushrooming controversy, a person familiar with the conversations tells CNN.
Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he is under the impression that Hicks has let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar said.In the aftermath, Trump has told associates he feels that Hicks put her own priorities ahead of his. However, there is little to indicate that Hicks’ standing is in jeopardy.
I imagine Stephen Miller ran into Oval Office: “Mr. President! Good news! There IS a woman we can blame this domestic abuse scandal on!”
Does this all sound like a bad reality show? Of course, but it doesn’t implicate Trump as much as it does John Kelly, who is supposedly the “grown up” in the White House.
UPDATE: Trump believes Porter’s innocence because of course he does.
quite the CNN chyron right now pic.twitter.com/08pG0D4wpJ
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) February 9, 2018
Moore: He denies it, says it didn’t happen, you have to listen to him also
Porter: He says he’s innocent, you have to remember that
Lewandowski: How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?
Ailes: He helped those women
O’Reilly: I don’t think he did anything wrong
— Maggie Jordan: (@MaggieJordanACN) February 9, 2018