President Donald Trump's staff secretary Rob Porter was forced to resign on Wednesday after separate news reports exposed detailed allegations—and photographic evidence—that he had physically, emotionally, and verbally abused his two ex-wives.
Porter claimed in a statement that allegations described in reports by the Daily Mail and The Intercept "are simply false," but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Porter will soon depart his job in the Trump administration, which The Intercept described as a "powerful" position that involved serving as "a gatekeeper of the flow of information to Trump."
In its reporting, The Intercept details how the FBI was informed of Porter's history of alleged abusive behavior "during the background interviews for Porter's security clearance related to his senior White House role."
In a press conference on Wednesday, reporters asked Sanders several questions about the allegations. In addition to stating that Trump has "had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance," Sanders declined to say whether Porter ever received security clearance and claimed the resignation was "a personal decision that Rob made."
When asked if the president had concerns about the allegations levied against Porter, Sanders said, "I haven't asked" the president "about whether or not he has specific concerns."
"Has he seen the photos of Rob Porter's ex-wife with a black eye?" the reporter asked.
"I don't know," Sanders responded.
Sanders says she hasn’t asked President Trump whether he has concerns about the domestic abuse allegations against White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who denies the accusations https://t.co/cKnL011s74 https://t.co/PnWcLSxwik
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 7, 2018
Sanders and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly—who was reportedly Porter's other half in the "two-man team" deciding "what makes it to Trump's desk"—both praised the top Trump staffer in statements that appear in the first Daily Mail story, which was published Tuesday evening.
"Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him," Kelly said. "He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him." Sanders noted she had "worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year," adding, "the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character."
In the pair of Daily Mail stories, Jennifer Willoughby, Porter's second wife, alleged her former husband called her a "fucking bitch" on their honeymoon, detailed how she was always "'walking on eggshells' during their marriage due to his explosive anger," and shared a protective order she filed against Porter because, she says, he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave their apartment.
Porter's first wife, Colbie Holderness, told the Daily Mail that Porter "was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, and that is why I left." And in an updated report published Wednesday, Holderness told The Intercept about the "frightening and dehumanizing" pattern of abuse in their relationship, and shared photos of herself with a black eye, which Holderness says she took after Porter punched her in the face while on vacation in Italy.