White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter announced his resignation on Wednesday, Politico reports, after allegations that he physically and emotionally abused both of his ex-wives surfaced earlier this week.
According to a report from The Daily Mail, Porter’s first ex-wife, a senior analyst for the U.S. government Colbie Holderness, was married to him for five years. She said “He was never physically abusive until our honeymoon and that floored me.”
The article reported that Porter “choked and punched her during their marriage, breaking down her confidence so badly with his verbal and emotional abuse that she took an extended leave of absence from grad school.” Holderness shared graphic images with The Intercept of herself with a severe black eye and a bruised face from a vacation she took with Porter to Florence, Italy, years ago.
Porter’s second ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby, a former school teacher and now public speaker and writer, filed a protective order with the court in Alexandria, VA just months after their marriage began because Porter violated their temporary separation agreement, as the New York Times notes. She said that one incident escalated so quickly that she excused herself from an argument to take a shower and in response Porter opened the shower door and dragged her by her shoulders out of the bathroom. She said that once Porter saw her reaction, he released her and apologized. Willoughby told the Daily Mail she felt manipulated throughout their entire marriage.
Both ex-wives of Porter were interviewed by the FBI when Porter was being tapped to serve in the current administration and shared their stories of abuse with agents. The FBI has refused to comment on their process or the interviews they’ve conducted.
Just days after these allegations were made, Porter (who is currently dating White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks) announced his resignation from the White House Wednesday afternoon. In his public statement regarding his resignation, Porter denied the claims of his ex-wives: “These outrageous allegations are simply false. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”
“Rob Porter has been effective in his role as staff secretary,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday. “The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance.”