White House aide resigns after allegations of spousal abuse

2018-02-08 10:06
White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter hands President Donald Trump a confirmation order for James Mattis as defence secretary, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Evan Vucci, AP)

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter hands President Donald Trump a confirmation order for James Mattis as defence secretary, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Evan Vucci, AP)

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

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

Porter said photos published of his former spouses - in which one appears to have a black eye - were "given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described".

Porter added in a written statement: "I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a co-ordinated smear campaign." Porter said he will leave the White House after a transition period.

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

Bruised eye socket

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

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

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

Porter, 40, has been credited with working with White House chief of staff John Kelly to control the flow of information to the president.

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

He helped craft 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.

Internal support

The DailyMail.com published a statement from Kelly referring to Porter as a "man of true integrity and honour", adding: "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 added.

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

Late Wednesday, Kelly released a statement claiming "new allegations" had swayed him.

"I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society," Kelly said. "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." It's unclear what new allegations Kelly was referring to.

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