Rob Porter has resigned from his role as White House staff secretary after his first ex-wife told DailyMail.com that he choked and punched her during their marriage.
Colbie Holderness, 37, who is a senior analyst for the U.S. government, spoke on the record to DailyMail.com about her five-year marriage to Porter, detailing physical and mental abuse.
Porter operated for months in the White House without a full security clearance because the accusations against him and a protective order from one of his ex-wives prevented him from being granted full clearance.
She said he broke down her confidence so badly with his verbal and emotional abuse that she took an extended leave of absence from grad school.
Individuals close to Kelly and the president told ABC News and The New York Times that the chief of staff has “made it clear” over the past 24 hours that he would be willing to step down.
Holderness’s revelations follow DailyMail.com’s exclusive interview on Tuesday evening with Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby.
She told how Porter, 40, once dragged her wet and naked out of the shower and was verbally abusive, calling her a f***ing b***h’ on their honeymoon.
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The White House initially gave Porter its full support. But just hours after the second set of revelations, Porter resigned while still protesting his innocence.
‘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,’ Porter said in a statement Wednesday.
‘I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.
‘My commitment to public service speaks for itself. I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump Administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House.’
Kelly has been under fire for his handling of the information and was reportedly aware of the abuse months before it was reported.
Colbie Holderness married Porter in June 2003 at New College Chapel in Oxford, England where Porter was attending as a Rhodes scholar
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Holderness, 37, who is a senior analyst for the U.S. government, spoke on the record to DailyMail.com about her five-year marriage following the on-the-record allegations by Rob Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby
Colbie tells DailyMail.com that while she and Porter were on a vacation in Florence, Italy, a couple of years after they married in the early 2000s, Porter punched her in the face
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Porter, 40, has been described as one of the most important players in Trump’s daily Oval Office orbit, and helped him write last week’s State of the Union Address
The deputies called for backup, at which point the Locust Grove officer arrived at the scene and an altercation occurred. The shooting began as officers attempted to arrest the male suspect, McBrayer said, but he wouldn’t say who fired the first shot or how the situation unfolded.
Hope Hicks, 29, was seen leaving her D.C. apartment with White House Staff Secretary Porter 10 days ago
On Wednesday White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to comment on his security clearance, however, and dodged a question about why President Trump would accept his resignation even though the White House had emphasized the trust and faith the administration had in Porter.
‘As has always been our policy when it comes to security clearances, we don’t comment on them. I’m not going to change that today,’ she said.
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‘I can tell you that Rob has been an effective in his role as staff secretary. The president and chief of staff have full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance.’
Sanders then read Porter’s full statement on air before adding: ‘He is going to be leaving the White House. It won’t be immediate. But he is resigning from the White House but is going to stay on to ensure that there’s a smooth transition moving forward.’
In 2010, Jennifer Willoughby – Porter’s second ex-wife – filed a protective order against him after he violated their separation agreement and refused to 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.
And Porter’s first ex-wife, Holderness, revealed to DailyMail.com that she was interviewed by the FBI – as was Willoughby – about their marriage after Porter was tapped for his current White House position as staff secretary. Porter required a security clearance – which he has not received.
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Last week, DailyMail.com revealed that Porter, who is Mormon, and White House Director of Communications Hope Hicks are dating, and were seen kissing in a cab on the way back to her apartment from a bar.
When reached for comment about second wife Jennifer Willoughby’s story, before he had resigned, Porter told DailyMail.com: ‘I will not comment about these matters, beyond stating that many of these allegations are slanderous and simply false.’
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly issued an official statement late Wednesday saying: ‘I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. 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. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.’
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‘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,’ he said.
But, rather than being a man of integrity, first wife Colbie says Porter is ‘a bit of a monster’ and has displayed a pattern of abuse with women.
‘I was his first wife and it wasn’t until there was a second wife and then a long-time girlfriend reaching out to me, who was experiencing some weird things. I started to realize that he keeps getting away with it. It’s a pattern now, it hasn’t gone away.’
Colbie, whose maiden name is Paulson, met Porter at a Mormon church in 2000 while she was attending Wellesley to double major in American studies and political science. Porter was attending Harvard to study government.
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‘Rob is very intelligent – that’s what drew me to him,’ she said. ‘We had a mutual interest in government and public policy. We seemed to be well paired. We got to know each other a little bit at church but he quickly asked me out and we became a couple. We became very serious, very quickly but it was rocky.
‘He was never physical with me while we were dating and now I see there were red flags, left and right. He was verbally abusive and emotionally abusive all during that time, which I understand now, and we were fighting a lot.
‘He would belittle me constantly about my weight, my sexiness, how good I looked to him or didn’t look to him.
‘He would always be checking out other women very obviously and would often compare me to other women.
‘He was never physical with me while we were dating,’ Colbie told DailyMail.com, ‘and now I see there were red flags, left and right. He was verbally abusive and emotionally abusive all during that time, which I understand now, and we were fighting a lot
Colby told DailyMail.com: ‘I remember crying all through my wedding day, not sure if I wanted to go through with it. But we were already over in England, everybody had flown over there and it was a very high-pressure situation for a 23-year-old and so I went through with it’
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Says Colbie: ‘We were arguing and he punched me in the face. He left visible marks when he punched me and I have pictures of that. I didn’t go the police because I was scared, I was in Italy alone and I didn’t know what to do.’
According to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were serving a warrant at a residence on St. Frances Court in Locust Grove. Deputies called for backup when they noticed the man was not going to go peacefully.
Holderness said that she never went to the police in the U.S. because she did not think that she would be believed
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‘Our relationship went on for three years until I graduated from college and then we got married two weeks later.’
The wedding was in June 2003 at New College Chapel in Oxford, England where Porter was attending as a Rhodes scholar.
Holderness said: ‘I remember crying all through my wedding day, not sure if I wanted to go through with it. But we were already over in England, everybody had flown over there and it was a very high-pressure situation for a 23-year-old and so I went through with it.
According to officials, one Locust Grove PD officer and two Henry County deputies were shot in a neighborhood just off of LG Griffin Road in Locust Grove, near St. Augustine Parkway.
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Holderness said: ‘It was a really odd thing that he did. He was angry because we weren’t having sex when he wanted to have sex and he kicked me.
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‘It seems such a juvenile thing at the time, but I remember thinking about words my mother had told me when it happened.
‘She had passed away before I graduated from college. She told me that she had once warned my father that if he ever hit her, she would leave him.
‘My father never did anything like that because he’s a very good man – but I remember those words passing through my head right after Rob kicked me. I was thinking, ‘What do I do? I just got married.’
‘It was a kick which, although it hurt, was ridiculous at the same time. That was the first time he hurt me and then the doors opened. I didn’t do anything and it continued.’
Jennifer Willoughby, the second wife of President Trump’s staff secretary Rob Porter, spoke on the record to DailyMail.com about her abusive marriage
Holderness, who has remarried, said: ‘In a sense I couldn’t believe it was happening to me – I was a well-educated woman, he was well-educated man, we came from good families. It just didn’t seem real, I think I was in denial.
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‘At times, the way he would be physically violent with me was very odd. He would throw me down on the bed, then put his full body weight on top of me, then grind a knee or elbow into my body, expressing rage.
‘It was scary but it wasn’t like it was life-threatening. For years, I would go to Mormon bishops and I would try to find the words to explain what was going on but I was at a loss beyond the explanation that he got physical with me.’
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‘It was not hard enough for me to pass out but it was scary, humiliating and dehumanizing,’ she said.
‘It wasn’t until I went to a secular counsellor at my work place one summer and told him what was going on that he was the first person, and not a male religious leader, who told me that what was happening was not okay.’
While on a vacation in Florence, Italy, a couple of years after they married, Holderness said that Porter punched her in the face.
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Rob Porter, who resigned his position on February 7, 2018 as White House staff secretary, initially received strong backing from his former boss, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, following accusations that Porter was abusive toward one of his ex-wives.
But that support seemed to evaporate when the second ex came forward with photos that she said showed a black eye Porter gave her.
Porter was Hatch’s chief of staff from March 2014 until he came to the White House on Inauguration Day.
In an exclusive statement to DailyMail.com on February 6, Hatch said that it was ‘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.’
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Utah Senator Orrin Hatch softened his support for Rob Porter in the hours between his first statement of solidarity and Porter’s resignation from the White House
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‘I know Rob. I’ve known him for years, both as a close friend and as a personal advisor,’ Hatch continued at the time. ‘He is kind and considerate towards all.’
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‘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.’
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Less than 15 hours later, however, after DailyMail.com published the black-eye photos and Porter resigned his position, Hatch backpedaled and said he didn’t know what Porter may have done in the years before he knew him.
‘In every interaction I’ve had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional, and respectful. My staff loved him and he was a trusted advisor.’
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I do not know the details of Rob’s personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable. I am praying for Rob and those involved,’ he said.
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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly hasn’t wavered in his support for Porter, whom he reportedly urged to stay.
In a statement to DailyMail.com on February 6, he said that ‘Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him.’
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly complained in October 2017 that women were no longer held as ‘sacred’ in America, but as the Porter scandal unfolded he called the accused spousal abuser ‘a man of true integrity and honor’
But in October 2017 the retired U.S. Marine Corps general lectured the White House press corps, complaining that women were no longer ‘sacred’ in America.
‘When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,’ he said then. ‘Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor.’
Kelly spoke just days after the #MeToo movement took off with sexual abuse allegations against the now-disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Statements from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also semed to evolve as the story grew in intensity and Porter was forced out.
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‘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,’ Sanders said on February 6.
In her office after she announced Porter’s resignation, Sanders said that ‘of course’ the Trump White House condemned domestic violence of any kind.
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted that ‘of course’ the administration condemns domestic violence of all kinds, but wouldn’t commit to whether she believes Porter or his two ex-wives
Sanders wouldn’t, however, say that the White House sided with Porter’s ex-wives or believed their accounts of his behavior.
‘It’s not a matter of “believe” or “don’t believe”,’ she told DailyMail.com, straddling both sides of what had become a heated dispute between a trusted colleague and the women who claimed he abused them.
‘I hurt for anyone who’s experienced anything like that – I haven’t – in whatever degree. But at the same time I can only talk about my personal experience and interactions,’ she said.
Colbie, here with her current husband, confirmed that she had also been interviewed by the FBI about her marriage after Porter was tapped for his current White House position and required security clearance which he has not received
‘We were arguing and he punched me in the face. He left visible marks when he punched me and I have pictures of that. I didn’t go the police because I was scared, I was in Italy alone and I didn’t know what to do.’
Holderness said that she never went to the police in the U.S. because she did not think that she would be believed.
‘I did move out several times because of the abuse. We spent big chunks of our marriage apart. I would keep going back until enough was enough. I could feel myself slipping away as a person.’
She said that others had seen the warning signs but not realized the depth of abuse that she was going through.
‘Speaking to friends and family later, it was clear to people that Rob had a temper. He would be very cruel and mean but he was never physically abusive towards anybody else and no one saw it happen to me.
‘He knew he had me in a vulnerable position and he could behave that way in private. But he was smart enough and careful enough to never behave that way in public but people did see his anger issues at various times.’
‘During the first year of the marriage we were in England and then I took in a job back in Idaho in my home state and was so relieved to get away. He would visit me there but I just remembered thinking that the job would give me the space and distance to think. We both went back to graduate school at Harvard and were living upstairs from his parents, who were masters at Dunster House.
‘We were living up in the old servants quarters during the first year of graduate school and the abuse continued. So I moved out the next summer and got my own place for the entire second year of graduate school.
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Rob Porter and Hope Hicks 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
Colbie, as her black eye was healing and Colbie today. She has remarried and says it took her years to recover her confidence and sense of self.
‘He would insult my intelligence because he knew that was important to me and it is important to him. He would call me a ‘f***ing idiot’, say ‘you are so stupid, you are so dumb, you cannot do anything.’
‘I was so distraught and my confidence was so broken that part way through the second year of my graduate program I had to take a leave of absence, go to all my professors and tell them that my marriage was a nightmare and I needed more time to compete my degree and essentially dropped out of school.
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‘I did finish it after the divorce and I had recovered a bit. I was just broken and its taken me years to recover my confidence and sense of self.
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‘Pretty shortly after that I cut off all contact with him [Porter] and really haven’t talked to him since – with a few exceptions. He would track me down occasionally until I finally had to mail a letter to his parents and say, ‘please leave me alone I’ve asked nicely – it’s going to be a problem if he doesn’t.’
‘Rob might be a bit a monster but he’s very smart. I think he knew that was a liability for him if he continued with that behavior. He’s not that obsessive.’
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On Tuesday, DailyMail.com spoke with Porter’s second ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughy. They were married from 2009 until 2013.
Willoughby, 39, said she was ‘walking on eggshells’ during their marriage due to his explosive anger.
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The public speaker and writer claims that on December 22, 2010, Porter pulled her naked from the shower by the shoulders and yelled at her. She refused to join his family on a vacation after that.
Willoughby said : ‘[It happened] just after our first anniversary. I cannot remember what the fight was about but I excused myself 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 couple had married over Thanksgiving 2009 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They took a short honeymoon over the Christmas break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where Willoughby said he verbally abused her.
She said: ‘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 his needs.
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Hope exits the taxi while Rob pays for the ride before they both enter her D.C. apartment at the end of the evening
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She added: ‘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.’
Several months into the marriage, Willoughby filed a protective order with a court in Alexandria, Virginia, after Porter violated their temporary separation agreement.
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A police complaint, filed on June 19, 2010, states that Porter 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 said: ‘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; 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.’
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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
‘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.
‘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.’
Willoughby said that she still believes that Porter was a capable of his White House role as staff secretary, a close aide to President Trump.
‘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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Willoughby said that she never saw Rob take his anger out on other people – ‘not even road rage’ – but that it 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.’
‘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.
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‘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.
‘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.
Willoughby told DailyMail.com that she had a miscarriage at six weeks pregnant towards the end of their marriage. ‘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
‘[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.
Since her marriage ended, she left her job as a high school science teacher and has become a full-time writer, educational speaker and motivational coach.
Willoughby told DailyMail.com that Porter called her last year and demanded she take down her blog posts that referred to their marriage.
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.
Willoughby also told DailyMail.com that she received a message from Porter’s 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.
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Porter is a Massachusetts-born Harvard graduate who went to the Ivy League school with presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
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.
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‘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.’
Porter was seen opening the door as the couple returned to Hope’s D.C. apartment after their dinner
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The couple’s time at Hope’s apartment after dinner comes after they were seen at a church service in early January and prayed together even though they come from different religions. Porter is a Mormon while Hicks is Roman Catholic
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.
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.
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.
Porter had been living with a willowy blonde political appointee, sources say before he began dating Hicks.
The woman split with Porter around Thanksgiving, a White House source tells DailyMailTV exclusively.
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.’
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