Top White House aide resigns after allegations of domestic abuse
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US White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned on Wednesday following accusations of domestic abuse levelled against him by two former wives.
Porter, a senior adviser who is in charge of much of the documentation that goes to President Donald Trump for his signature, announced his departure in a statement after his former wives made accusations against him in published reports.
DailyMail.com quoted Colbie Holderness as saying that Porter choked and punched her during their marriage. Intercept.com quoted former wife Jennifer Willoughby as saying that Porter was abusive. Reuters has not independently confirmed the allegations.
The White House had backed Porter until a photo showing Holderness with a black eye was published.
"I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in a statement.
White House officials had been aware of the allegations against Porter for some time but had not known how serious they were until the last couple of days, a source familiar with the situation said.
Despite his resignation, Porter hit back at the accusations.
“These outrageous allegations are simply false," Porter said in a statement released by the White House. "I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."
Porter had not yet been approved for a security clearance. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said issues related to an individual's suitability are reviewed through a thorough and lengthy background check process.
"Background checks involve a complex investigation run by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. As has always been our policy, we do not comment on security clearances. Rob Porter has been effective in his role as Staff Secretary. The President and Chief of Staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance," she said.
In his statement on Wednesday night, Kelly said: "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."