Trump says it's a 'tough time' for ex-aide accused of abuse
10 February, 2018, 06:42 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
White House staffer Rob Porter's two ex-wives had informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Porter's abusive behavior as part of his security clearance.
As Porter's second ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, illustrated to Anderson Cooper last night, this is more than just another political football for the administration to have a kick at.
When asked what he had asked her to say, Willoughby responded: 'I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of the post does not accurately depict my marriage.
The official said White House counsel Don McGahn was apprised of at least some of the accusations about Porter at least four times, including as early as January 2017.
For the past year, he was working with an "interim" clearance.
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Trump was reportedly "surprised" and "disheartened" to hear the news.
But as CNN reported Thursday, it was widely known by early fall of a year ago among top aides - Kelly included - that Porter was facing trouble obtaining security clearance and that he had allegedly abused his ex-wives. Seems unlikely, given the glowing statements he made about the Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar whom President Trump has called "the smartest guy in the White House".
Just as troubling, in my mind, are reports that Chief of Staff John Kelly also knew that Porter was never going to receive a security clearance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance", said press secretary Sarah Sanders. "Is there any other crime - and it's a crime -where there would be an explanation that the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something?"
The scrutiny of Kelly increased when the CNN television network revealed that he and other senior White House officials had known the charges against Porter for months, and yet had defended and even promoted him to the West Wing. She told Cooper that Kelly may well have believed Porter's downplayed version of events-an indication of Porter's manipulative tendencies, and Kelly's remarkable reluctance to investigate whether one of his close confidantes was actually an abuser of women.
CNN reported that following their 2003 marriage, Holderness said Porter quickly began to be abusive: "She said that Porter's repeated physically abusive behavior also included throwing her on the bed and forcefully pushing one of his limbs into her body in anger and choking her".
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In his resignation statement, Porter said "these outrageous allegations are simply false". The entire White House's knee-jerk reaction to allegations is to believe the accused man and call the woman a liar spreading fake news.
Porter's title understates his significance in the White House.
Willoughby took out a temporary protective order in 2010, which according to the Post said that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that [Porter] has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense". She also said his departure from the White House was not imminent.
A photo of Holderness with a black eye, purportedly after an incident with Porter, also came to light this week, leaving many wondering why he remained in his high-profile post, who knew about the accusations and when were they made aware.
"He had asked me multiple times to take down my Instagram post", she said, referring to a post in which she described abuse in a general terms, but without using his name.
Speaking with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Willoughby said she "had been in contact with Rob a lot in the last two weeks as he gave me some warning that stories might break". Holderness says Porter kicked her, chocked her, and punched her in the face on their honeymoon.
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Porter had told people in the West Wing, including Kelly, that his exes were trying to smear him, according to the official. Ms Willoughby, a motivational speaker, told the Daily Mail she was married to Mr Porter from 2009-13.
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