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White House aide resigns over spousal abuse allegations

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

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, center, with

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, center, with President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

WASHINGTON — A top White House aide to President Donald Trump resigned on Wednesday amid allegations of spousal abuse brought forward by his two ex-wives.

Rob Porter, 40, the White House staff secretary whose job includes controlling the president’s daily schedule, announced his resignation in a statement to reporters in which he denied the allegations of abuse outlined by his exes in an article published Tuesday night by the online news outlet DailyMail.com.

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, told the outlet he punched her in the face during a trip to Italy, and provided photos posted on the website showing her black eye. His second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, described a marriage fraught with emotional and physical abuse. She provided the outlet with a protective order she filed with authorities against Porter in June 2010 after he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, punching at her door.

“These outrageous allegations are simply false. 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,” Porter said. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign. My commitment to public service speaks for itself. I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump Administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Porter had the “full confidence” of Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and was not pressured to resign.

“Rob has been effective in his role as staff secretary, and the president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance,” Sanders told reporters, adding that he wouldn’t immediately leave his role, in order to “ensure that there’s a smooth transition moving forward.”

Kelly issued a statement late Wednesday evening as the White House faced growing criticism over the decision to keep Porter in his top-level post despite officials reportedly knowing for months about the abuse allegations.

“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter,” 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. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”

Porter, who previously worked as an aide to Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), worked closely under Kelly, serving as a gatekeeper for documents and information sent to the president. He often traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One, and also played a role in drafting the president’s State of the Union address.

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