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Ex-Girlfriend Took Porter Concerns to White House Counsel

As John Kelly's defense of the staff secretary turns to 'shock'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2018 6:52 AM CST
Ex-Girlfriend Took Porter Concerns to White House Counsel
White House staff secretary Rob Porter, front, walks with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, to board the Marine One on the South Lawn as they leave the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – Influential White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday in the wake of reports he physically abused two ex-wives, reports that he maintains are "vile" and "simply false." The claims come via Colbie Holderness (who married Porter in 2003) and Jennifer Willoughby (who married him in 2009). The Washington Post reports White House staffers knew vaguely of the situation as of late 2017, but only heard the alleged details when contacted Tuesday by a reporter from the Daily Mail, which first reported the women's story. But Holderness and Willoughby say they did tell the FBI what happened in January 2017. "I thought by sharing my story with the FBI he wouldn’t be put in that post," Holderness says, explaining that she voiced concerns he could be blackmailed because of the number of people who knew about her situation.

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  • CBS News heard from sources that Porter was never able to secure full permanent security clearance as a result of their claims, though the White House wouldn't confirm this. Reports suggest he had interim clearance; Bloomberg digs deeper into the security clearance angle here.
  • The Harvard University-educated Rhodes scholar operated as Chief of Staff John Kelly's "top enforcer," per the Post, and Kelly initially came to Porter's defense. In a new statement, Kelly expressed his shock at the allegations, and 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."
  • At Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman reports that four GOP sources told him that Kelly's initial defense of Porter upon the release of the detailed allegations "deeply frustrated White House staffers" who "are increasingly questioning Kelly's judgment." Politico spoke with a senior administration official who said Kelly knew of the allegations prior to their release.
  • Politico also reports that another woman voiced her concern: An unnamed ex-girlfriend of Porter's who is employed by the Trump administration reportedly reached out to White House counsel Don McGahn after learning Porter was dating White House communications director Hope Hicks. Politico says she expressed her concern, but notes it's unclear where McGahn took things from there.
  • As for Porter's timeline, the Post reports that while the White House initially indicated he'd stay in his role for several transitional weeks, he's now expected to be out within 48 hours.
(Read more Trump administration stories.)

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