“We wish him well; he worked very hard,” Trump said to a small group of reporters at the White House, providing his first public comments on the topic. “We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”
In interviews with The Washington Post and other media outlets, Porter’s ex-wives have accused him of physically and emotionally abusing them during their marriages. Both said that they informed the FBI in January 2017 of their allegations while they were being interviewed by agents as part of Porter’s security clearance review.
In an email to staff on Thursday, Kelly told White House personnel the administration took domestic violence “very seriously” and that it had “no place in our society.” Kelly appeared to toughen his stance on Porter after facing criticism over his response to the accounts of abuse, initially calling Porter “a man of true integrity and honor” and later expressing shock at the revelation.
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Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, has accused him of throwing her down and punching her in the face during a trip to Florence in 2005 and provided photos showing her with a black eye. Porter’s second wife, Jennie Willoughby, received a temporary emergency protective order in Arlington, Va., in June 2010 after saying Porter refused to leave her residence, in violation of their separation agreement. She said he broke her window, causing his knuckles to bleed. Porter has denied these accusations and disputed Holderness’s account of how she received a black eye.
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“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” Porter said in a statement. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”
Trump’s comments on Friday echo the strong support Porter received from the White House this week. When the allegations were first reported by the DailyMail.com on Tuesday, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly came to Porter’s defense and called the allegations “slanderous and simply false.”
“Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly said in a statement at the time. “He is a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
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Kelly urged Porter to stay in his job, even after photos became public on Wednesday showing his first wife’s blackened eye. On Wednesday night, after Porter had resigned, Kelly issued a statement condemning Porter’s alleged abuses and stated that “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.”
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This is not the first time that the president has continued to embrace men close to him who have been accused of assault. In July 2016, Trump called his longtime friend Roger Ailes — who had just been ousted from Fox News amid accusations that he sexually harassed at least two-dozen women — “a very, very good person” and cast suspicion on the accusers. In April last year, Trump said that Bill O’Reilly — who, it had recently been revealed, paid millions of dollars in settlements to five women who had accused him of sexual or verbal abuse — “a good person” who should not have settled, because “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Late last year, Trump continued to support Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — who was accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers — and noted that Moore “totally denies it.”
And Trump himself has been accused of abuse by 13 women who have publicly claimed that Trump touched or kissed them without their permission. Trump has denied all of these accusations and cast all of his accusers as liars. In a 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview caught on a hot microphone, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
Jennifer Willoughby, the second wife of President Trump’s staff secretary Rob Porter has spoken on the record to DailyMail.com about her abusive marriage to the man described as one of the most important players in the Oval Office.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who was among those to criticize the White House’s response to the Porter revelations earlier this week, hammered Trump for praising the former top aide on Friday.
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Willoughby, 39, told DailyMail.com she was ‘walking on eggshells’ during their marriage due to his explosive anger.
“He also, as you probably know, says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump noted. “He said very strongly yesterday that he is innocent.”
Porter’s first wife Colbie Holderness confirmed to DailyMail.com: ‘He was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive and that is why I left.’
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Last week, DailyMail.com revealed that Porter has been dating White House Director of Communications Hope Hicks.
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When reached for comment, Porter told DailyMail.com: ‘I will not comment about these matters, beyond stating that many of these allegations are slanderous and simply false.’
John Kelly, Chief of Staff, commented: ‘Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.’
‘I have worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year and the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character,’ Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told DailyMail.com.
Willoughby – who bears more than a passing resemblance to glamorous Hicks – claims that on December 22, 2010, Porter pulled her naked from the shower by the shoulders and yelled at her.
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Jennifer Willoughby, the second wife of President Trump’s staff secretary Rob Porter has spoken on the record to DailyMail.com about her abusive marriage
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Hope Hicks, 29, was spotted stepping out of her D.C. apartment with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter ten days ago
‘I want to be very clear when I say this,’ Willoughby said. ‘I don’t want to be married to him. I would not recommend anyone to date him or marry him. But I definitely want him in the White House and the position he is in. I think his integrity and ability to do his job is impeccable. And the majority of the issues he suffers from are very personal and intimate.’
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He called her a ‘f**king b***h’ on their honeymoon at Myrtle Beach between Christmas and New Year, she says.
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‘We had already been fighting. I had already seen more extreme versions of the overreactions of anger that I had seen back in August,’ which was before they were married.
Shortly after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, first learned from Mr. Porter himself that there were abuse allegations against him, according to two people briefed on the situation. Mr. McGahn’s knowledge of the accusations in January was first reported by The Washington Post.
Willoughby continued: ‘I can’t remember what triggered it. He lashed out and was really angry, and both under his breath and explicitly to me called me a ”f***ing b***h” and ”f***ing ridiculous”. He accused me of not caring about him or not caring about his needs.
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‘That whole week, or however long it was, several days, [of honeymoon] was spent with me trying not to make him upset.’
She said: ‘I frequently would do favors for friends, like watch their dog or go pick up their daughter, and he would be angry that I would do that.
‘In the first weeks and months, his explanation for his anger was that his first marriage had been very toxic, rooted in arguments, accusations and manipulation and he was carrying over from that relationship.
‘He would say that he was so used to being treated this way by his ex-wife that he was projecting that on to me. That was the explanation.’
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‘He’s very intelligent, extremely good with his words and is a lawyer by profession and is able to take words that I had said and use them in a way that it would confuse me as to what I meant,’ she told DailyMail.com in the bombshell interview.
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‘He would challenge my intelligence or a statement that I had made by implying that I couldn’t have possibly come up with it on my own and that I must have been influenced by someone.
‘I would start to doubt myself. He was using words against me. It was his norm in dealing with behavior he didn’t like.’
Regardless of whether they knew details, there were a significant number of people who were aware that there was something unseemly in the ether about Mr. Porter, and none appear to have sought more information.
Jennie said that she never saw Rob take his anger out on other people – ‘not even road rage’ – but that is was all behind closed doors.
‘That was something that was interesting to me, from a case study perspective. It does seem to be very much focused in an intimate, romantic relationship. It’s almost as though the anger that could have been placed on his father was placed on the romantic partner.’
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‘Fairly soon after New Year in 2010, I started seeing a therapist and requested that Rob see a therapist because I was so distressed about his anger,’ she revealed.
‘I also had met with a bishop in the Mormon Church about his anger. It came to a head and in February or March 2010. I was so worn down and exhausted by the anger that I requested we have a separation.
‘I never received specific threats from Rob, he was just often angry and it was oppressive. I started to take on the blame and the weight of his lack of self-worth.
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‘Over the course of the years of our marriage, I can think of several times where I was collapsing on the ground in tears and saying, ”just leave me alone, just stop” because the anger and the insults were too much.
‘[He would say] that I was worthless, that I was a liar. This is not one instance, these are things that he might have said in a rage. That I always got my way, that I was selfish, that I didn’t care about him, about his needs. Any version of those types of statements, heard enough times, with enough force behind them are devastating.’
‘The stress of being pregnant in that marriage was hard and then the shame and depression of not being pregnant anymore was also hard,’ she said.
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On June 19, 2010, she filed a protective order against Rob because he violated their separation agreement at the time, and would not leave their apartment.
According to a complaint filed with the police, he punched the glass on the door to their home, cutting his hand in the process, at which point she called the police. He then left and following that she filed a temporary protective order.
Willoughby claims that on December 22, 2010, Porter pulled her naked from the shower by the shoulders and yelled at her: ‘[It happened] just after our first anniversary….It was a glass shower door, he opened it and dragged me by my shoulders out of the shower to yell. Immediately upon seeing my reaction to that, he released me and apologized but it doesn’t take away that he was angry enough that that happened’
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On June 19, 2010, Jennifer filed a protective order against Rob because he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave their apartment
Willoughby wrote in a criminal complaint that Porter would not leave after she asked him to leave her apartment
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She claims Porter punched the glass on the door to their home, cutting his hand in the process at which point she called the police
Willoughby said: ‘[It happened] just after our first anniversary. I cannot remember what the fight was about but I excused myself from the fight in a way that was typical at that time. I certainly was not meek and mild and said, ”I’m not going to fight you anymore” and stormed off and went to take a shower.
‘He was not done fighting with me. It was a glass shower door, he opened it and dragged me by my shoulders out of the shower to yell. Immediately upon seeing my reaction to that, he released me and apologized but it doesn’t take away that he was angry enough that that happened.’
The attack upset her so greatly that she refused to join his family on a Christmas vacation that they were leaving for the following day. She also asked him to leave their home.
‘He was very contrite and apologetic at that point. In all of the anger and all of the name-calling, he had never been physical with me.’
Willoughby tells DailyMail.com that Porter called her last year and demanded she take down her blog posts that referred to their marriage – she did not name him.
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He asked her what she had told the FBI about their relationship during her interview with the agency over his security clearance in February 2017.
‘My experience of our entire marriage was being with a man who could be both charming and romantic and fun – and even thoughtful and kind; and horribly angry and manipulative. It was the duality of both of those things existing at the same time and not necessarily knowing what in his life would trigger the anger,’ Willoughby said
At that time they talked, she claims, she spoke with his first wife Colbie and she said that they had both experienced the same abuse.
Willoughby also received a message from his previous girlfriend, before Hicks, telling her that Rob was considering hiring a private investigator to look into her and ’employ’ a journalist to write about her.
‘My experience of our entire marriage was being with a man who could be both charming and romantic and fun – and even thoughtful and kind; and horribly angry and manipulative. It was the duality of both of those things existing at the same time and not necessarily knowing what in his life would trigger the anger.
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‘Or what in his life would draw out the kindness and the chivalry. That’s a crazy-making space for a spouse to be in, that I somehow have no control over the quality of my relationship.
‘The terminology is ”walking on eggshells” – you don’t know which man is going to walk in the door. Or you don’t know what seemingly innocuous comment is going to be interpreted differently.
‘I had a friend’s daughter over to carve pumpkins for Halloween and he sulked and pouted and didn’t join us. And of course after she left, he was angry – ”why would I have someone over, why would you help her [my friend] out when she could be doing this herself?” There was no rational explanation as to why that would make him angry at that particular moment.’
Porter is a Massachusetts-born Harvard graduate who went to the Ivy League school with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Hicks and Porter were seen smiling and laughing over drinks as they enjoyed each other’s company at Rosa Mexicano in Washington D.C., hours before they went home together
He also went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and spent two years as a Mormon missionary in London.
Before being tapped to join the new administration, he had been chief of staff for veteran Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. He has also worked for Republican senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mike Lee of Utah.
His job has been described as one of the most important in the Oval Office as he, working with Chief of Staff John Kelly, controls the information that reaches the president.
‘Porter, a little-known White House aide who has avoided getting caught up in any of the West Wing drama that has plagued the administration for the better part of seven months, serves to review everything before it makes it to the president’s desk,’ Business Insider wrote in September.
‘Given how the president has shared dubious information at times when aides have presented him with reports from less-than-credible sources, Porter’s role has an outsized importance,’ the paper added.
‘Talk to people who worked with him in the past, and they’ll repeatedly mention his intelligence, experience, and team-first attitude.’
Hope Hicks, 29, and Porter had doing their best to keep their romance under wraps when they were spotted together with friends at low-key restaurant Rosa Mexicano near downtown Washington two weeks ago.
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But the moment they got in the cab to go back to Hicks’ D.C. apartment they started cuddling and kissing in the back seat.
At the end of their evening together, Hicks and Porter hailed a cab, but as soon as it took off, the pair moved from their sides of the car to the middle and began kissing
During the taxi ride the secret lovers Hicks and Porter could be seen cuddling in the back seat. One eyewitness said Porter could be seen kissing Hope’s neck
Hope exited the taxi while Rob pays for the ride before they both enter her D.C. apartment at the end of the evening
‘As soon as the taxi took off they both moved from their sides of the cab to the middle. Rob was kissing Hope’s neck all the way home,’ an eyewitness to the red-hot White House couple said.
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Porter had been living with a willowy blonde political appointee, sources say before he began dating Hicks.
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The woman split with Porter around Thanksgiving, a White House source tells DailyMailTV exclusively.
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Senator Orrin Hatch, commented: ‘It’s incredibly discouraging to see such a vile attack on such a decent man. Shame on any publication that would print this—and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name.
‘I know Rob. I’ve known him for years, both as a close friend and as a personal advisor. He is kind and considerate towards all. The country needs more honest, principled people like Rob Porter, which is why I hope that this cynical campaign to discredit his character ultimately fails.’
On April 24, 2017, Jennifer Willoughby wrote a blog about her marriage, but she did not name Porter. Willoughby tells DailyMail.com that Porter called her last year and demanded she take down her blog posts.
The first time he called me a ‘f*****g bitch’ was on our honeymoon. (I found out years later he had kicked his first wife on theirs.) A month later he physically prevented me from leaving the house. Less than two months after that, I filed a protective order with the police because he punched in the glass on our front door while I was locked inside. We bought a house to make up for it. Just after our one year anniversary, he pulled me, naked and dripping, from the shower to yell at me.
Everyone loved him. People commented all the time how lucky I was. Strangers complimented him to me every time we went out. But in my home, the abuse was insidious. The threats were personal. The terror was real. And yet I stayed.
When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career. And so I kept my mouth shut and stayed. I was told, yes, he was deeply flawed, but then again so was I. And so I worked on myself and stayed. If he was a monster all the time, perhaps it would have been easier to leave. But he could be kind and sensitive. And so I stayed. He cried and apologized. And so I stayed. He offered to get help and even went to a few counseling sessions and therapy groups. And so I stayed. He belittled my intelligence and destroyed my confidence. And so I stayed. I felt ashamed and trapped. And so I stayed. Friends and clergy didn’t believe me. And so I stayed. I was pregnant. And so I stayed. I lost the pregnancy and became depressed. And so I stayed.
Abuse is indifferent to education level, socio-economic status, race, age, or gender. And no one can ever know the dynamics of another’s relationship. My cycle continued for four more years. Afterward, I let go and welcomed the hard work of healing and forgiveness. My experience made me stronger and able to love more deeply. But my heart breaks for him. In the end, who is the real victim of his choices?
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