Staff Secretary Rob Porter Resigns Over Domestic Abuse Allegations
White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter said Wednesday that he plans to resign from his position following domestic abuse allegations uncovered by The Daily Mail made by two of his former wives.
A copy of a 2010 protective order from second wife Jennifer Willoughby detailing domestic abuse was published The Daily Mail on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Mail published photographs of Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, with a black eye, which she claims Porter gave her.
Porter, who remained mostly out of the public eye, spent nearly everyday by the president’s side in his role as staff secretary.
Known as a cooler-head in the West Wing, aides were shocked by the news. Porter had handled every document signed by the president and routinely held meetings between senior officials to resolve disputes on various issues.
Porter released a statement announcing his resignation, while taking a shot at his accusers. “These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter began. “I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”
As of now, Derek Lyons, the deputy staff secretary, seems the most likely to pick up Porter’s position.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement before the news of Porter’s resignation. “Consistent with the practice of past administrations, issues related to an individual’s suitability are reviewed through a lengthy background check process,” she said. “Rob Porter has been effective in his role as Staff Secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance.”
Late Wednesday, in a second statement released by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after praising Porter as “a man of true honor and integrity,” said he was “shocked” at the claims against Porter. “There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” he said. “I stand by my previous comments of Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure swift and orderly transition.”
A senior White House official who is part of the administration says that Kelly had known of the 2010 restraining order against Porter prior to the story breaking, which had barred Porter from receiving full security clearance while serving as staff secretary.