Rob Porter and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Alex Brandon / AP
White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday after his two ex-wives told the Daily Mail he abused them.
Porter's ex-wives claim he was physically and emotionally abusive against them. His first wife, Colbie Holderness, alleged to the Daily Mail that he punched her during a trip to Florence, Italy in the early 2000s. The Daily Mail posted pictures of Holderness with a bruised face.
His second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, told the news site that she obtained a temporary protective order against Porter after he allegedly violated their separation agreement.
Porter denied the allegations in a statement, saying they “are simply false.”
“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” the statement issued Wednesday reads. “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. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign,” he said.
“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.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed his resignation during Wednesday's press briefing, saying he will be leaving the White House soon but “it won't be immediate.” She said the president and chief of staff John Kelly “have full confidence in his abilities and his performance.”
Porter was among Trump's most influential aides in the White House. As staff secretary, he vetted everything that made it to the president's desk and often traveled with him on Air Force One and remained close to the president throughout the day.
Sanders added that Porter was “not pressured” to resign, and that she is unsure if President Trump saw the images of his ex-wife with a black eye.
Porter had reportedly already been considering offers to leave the administration well before the allegations surfaced Tuesday.
The White house released a number of statements praising Porter, making it clear that he had not been fired despite the allegations of abuse against him.
Kelly in a statement called Porter “a man of true integrity and honor.”
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” Kelly's said in the statement. “He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
In another strongly-worded statement released by the White House, Porter's old boss, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, called the allegations against him a “vile attack on such a decent man,” adding, “shame on any publication that would print this.”
Hatch's office, however, released a different statement after Porter resigned. “I do not know the details of Rob's personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable.”
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