A senior White House official announced Wednesday he is resigning following allegations by his two ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse.
The official, Rob Porter, served as the staff secretary and often controlled the paper flow to President Trump’s desk, along with his daily schedule. Porter also oversaw the White House’s policy implementation process and worked closely with Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to try to instill discipline in the chaotic West Wing. He spent hours of the day with Trump and frequently traveled with him on Air Force One.
Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, said in an interview with the DailyMail.com that he was abusive during their marriage and alleged he punched in her the face during a trip to Florence in the early 2000s and provided photos to the publication showing her with a black eye. . . . One of Porter’s ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby, received a temporary emergency protective order in June 2010 after saying he refused to leave her residence in violation of their separation agreement. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Post, concludes that “reasonable grounds exist to believe that [Porter] has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense.”
Even more horrifying is that the FBI was informed of these allegations while conducting a background check. As a result, Porter lacked a top security clearance. And, to top it off, Politico reports, “a senior administration official said Kelly was previously aware of the 2010 protective order, which prevented Porter from getting a full security clearance.” It is not clear whether Trump was informed.
“There are two overlapping scandals here. First, that he was allowed to stay in his job at all after two former spouses told the FBI that he abused them,” Matt Miller, a former Department of Justice spokesman, told me. “Second, he was apparently allowed to continue in a job where you are required to constantly handle classified information despite his having been denied a full security clearance.” Miller added: “We need to know who signed off on each, and, unless there is some explanation that has not yet been made public, those people are most likely going to need to resign as well.”
But, of course, this White House has a peculiar standard when alleged abusive behavior is at issue, beginning with the president, who was accused during the campaign — by nearly 20 women — of sexual harassment and/or assault. More from the Politico report: “The White House has also continued to consider finding a role for former Carl’s Jr. head Andy Puzder, who withdrew from consideration to be Labor Secretary in 2017 after Politico reported that his ex-wife had accused him of domestic abuse during a 1990 appearance on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ Puzder denies the allegations and his ex-wife subsequently defended him and said she regretted appearing on the show.”
Additionally, Trump endorsed Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who had been accused by multiple women of sexual assault when they were minors. The president has also verbally derided women both during the campaign and in office, intimating at one point that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) traded sex for campaign money.
It is interesting that, say, an FBI agent wouldn’t in all likelihood be allowed to remain in his post with such evidence of domestic abuse pending. A former FBI special agent told me: “Usually if charged with domestic abuse, one would not be able to carry a firearm, and therefore would have to surrender their position or change their role in the government at a minimum.”
This administration’s attitude and treatment toward women is as deplorable as it is predictable. The GOP rallied around a presidential candidate — and later a president — who admitted on the “Access Hollywood” tape that he had sexually assaulted women. Is it any wonder that women’s complaints of abuse were not taken as grounds for disqualifying someone to serve on that president’s staff?
Kelly’s conduct is nearly inexplicable. At any other White House, Porter would not have been hired and, if he was brought on board, all those responsible for such a gross misjudgment would be fired. I expect nothing will happen to Kelly. He’s Trump’s kind of guy.