White House aide quits over domestic abuse allegations

Trump's chief of staff was 'shocked' at the allegations, but later said: ‘There is no place for domestic violence’ 

Rob Porter, centre, hands Donald Trump a document in the Oval Office in January 2017 (Photo: The Guardian)
Rob Porter, centre, hands Donald Trump a document in the Oval Office in January 2017 (Photo: The Guardian)

White House aide Rob Poter has quit over domestic abuse allegations made by his ex-wives.

White House staff secretary Rob Porter said "these outrageous allegations are simply false" as he announced he would step down.

The accusations were first reported in the Daily Mail and included accounts of physical and emotional abuse.

His ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, both recounted stories of Porter's alleged misconduct.

Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, told the Daily Mail that he was “verbally, emotionally and physically abusive, and that is why I left”. His second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, made similar allegations to the Mail, saying she had filed an emergency protective order. The article was published with photos appearing to depict Holderness with a bruised eye and a copy of the protective order.

Rob Porter was a squeaky-clean aide who made sure that papers landing on the president's desk were in order.

The White House staff secretary also helped the president follow protocol.

The White House would not comment on a report that Mr Porter, 40, failed to receive security clearance. White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired four-star general, however said on Wednesday that he was “shocked” by allegations of domestic abuse against a senior aide whom Kelly had defended a day earlier as “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him”.

Porter worked closely with Kelly to regulate Trump’s meetings schedule and decide which documents reached his desk.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Porter’s decision was a personal one, made independently of other White House officials.

On Tueday, Kelly issued a statement of personal support for Porter.

Porter (R) with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (Left) and chief of staff John Kelly (Photo: BBC)
Porter (R) with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (Left) and chief of staff John Kelly (Photo: BBC)

“He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional,” Kelly said. “I am proud to serve alongside him.”

In an updated statement, Kelly said: “There is no place for domestic violence in our society.” 

“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.”

His first spouse, Holderness, said the White House aide had been verbally and physically abusive. A US government analyst,  she said Porter had kicked her on their 2003 honeymoon in the Canary Islands.

She also alleged he punched her in the face while they were on holiday a couple of years later in Florence, Italy.

Jennifer Willoughby told the Daily Mail she filed a protective order against Mr Porter

Willoughby, a motivational speaker, told the Daily Mail she was married to Porter from 2009-13. She wrote about her experiences in a blog post entitled Why I Stayed.

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