Rob Porter, a top White House aide, has resigned after allegations of domestic abuse from two of his ex-wives surfaced this week.
Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, told the Daily Mail in a report published Tuesday that he abused her all throughout their five-year marriage. Holderness, who works as a government analyst, according to Daily Mail, also provided a photos of a black eye she says Porter gave her during their vacation to Italy in 2005.
Porter has maintained his innocence. In a statement, he said the allegations of abuse are “simply false.”
“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,” he said. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”
CBS News’s Major Garrett reported that White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who reportedly dated Porter, helped him write his public statement. On Wednesday, the White House confirmed that Porter has resigned from his role in the White House. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was a personal decision and the White House did not pressure him to leave.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said he was “shocked” by the allegations against Porter.
“There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” he said in a statement released late Wednesday. “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’s second wife, Jenny Willoughby, has spoken to multiple news outlets about the abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. Shortly after the two married in 2009, she says Porter verbally abused her during their honeymoon. Willoughby told the Daily Mail his moods were irregular and that anything would set him off.
In June, 2010, a judge granted an emergency protective order to Willoughby against Porter after he allegedly punched out a glass door while refusing to leave her apartment. His behavior allegedly violated the terms of their separation. You can read an excerpt of Willoughby’s account of the incident in an excerpt of the protective order, which was filed at the Arlington General District Court, here.
In a video interview published by The Washington Post, Willoughby says she told the FBI about her ex-husband’s past when they interviewed her as part of a background check. The FBI relayed this information to the White House, and Porter reportedly never received full security clearance because of these allegations, CBS News reports.