White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday, one day after both of his ex-wives publicly accused him of domestic violence. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, said she was kicked by Porter during the couple’s honeymoon in 2003 and that verbal and physical abuse continued for years. A pair of photos Holderness provided to The Intercept shows her with a black eye; she says they were taken after Porter threw her onto a bed and punched her in the face during a trip to Florence, Italy, in 2005. Holderness also provided the photos to FBI agents as they conducted background interviews for Porter’s White House security clearance. Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also alleged an abusive relationship in FBI interviews. Even as he tendered his resignation Wednesday, Rob Porter denied the charges—in a statement read by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “'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. I've been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.’”
White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly initially defended Porter as a “man of true integrity and honor,” before issuing an after-hours statement claiming he was “shocked” by the domestic violence claims. That’s despite multiple reports that Kelly and other senior White House staff have known for weeks—or even months—that the FBI denied Porter full security clearance over the allegations.