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Rob Porter was a rising star before abuse allegations surfaced

Long before he made headlines as the embattled White House staff secretary, Rob Porter was a rising star in Republica...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 12:45 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 12:45 PM

Long before he made headlines as the embattled White House staff secretary, Rob Porter was a rising star in Republican political circles.

Porter resigned from his position as a top White House staffer after his two ex-wives this week accused him of physical and emotional abuse. He has denied the allegations.

Porter serves as a crucial gatekeeper for President Donald Trump

The Harvard graduate has worked for several Republican lawmakers

His planned departure from President Donald Trump's inner circle is a major downfall for the Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, who though mostly unknown, was a big part of the administration.

As staff secretary, Porter spent a lot of time with the President, and traveled aboard Air Force One several times, including during last month's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos. He played a crucial role in determining what papers reach the President's desk, a gatekeeping position that meant direct access to Trump.

Porter not only controlled the flow of information onto Trump's desk, but as a lawyer, he also helped vet the mountain of documents that require the President's signature.

Sources say he's dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, one of Trump's most trusted advisers.

Years of experience

Prior to joining the White House staff, Porter worked for other GOP leaders behind-the-scenes.

He served as chief of staff to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican from Utah. His former boss issued a statement Wednesday following the allegations.

"In every interaction I've had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional, and respectful," Hatch said.

"My staff loved him and he was a trusted adviser. I do not know the details of Rob's personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable."

When Porter got his job at the White House, Hatch described him as an "inspired" pick, saying his move to Washington is a loss for him but a gain for the President.

"Rob is not only a brilliant leader, he is also a dear friend and a trusted confidante who has my full confidence and support," he said at the time.

Porter joined Hatch's team in March 2014 as deputy chief of staff, and had also worked for Sens. Rob Portman and Mike Lee.

A few months after he started working for Hatch, he got promoted to chief of staff.

Family ties

Porter's rise in politics was not entirely a surprise.

His father, Roger Porter, worked for several White House administrations before becoming a professor at Harvard.

"Combining both their tenures, the father-son duo has advised nearly every Republican administration since Gerald Ford," Utah's Deseret News said in an Opinion piece last year.

It described the younger Porter as "level-headed, hyper-competent Republican pragmatist."

In a chaotic White House where eye-popping headlines are the order of the day, Porter has largely stayed out of the media spotlight -- until now.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly viewed him as a right-hand man who would impose his system of order in his absence.

That may explain why Trump's senior aides, who multiple sources say knew for months about the ex-wives' allegations, took no action to remove him from the staff.

At first, Kelly defended Porter as "a man of true integrity and honor." But by Wednesday evening, Kelly issued a new statement.

"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," he said.

Abuse allegations

Porter's ex-wives detailed the allegations to the FBI when it conducted its routine background check on him. A year into the administration, Porter does not hold a security clearance

Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, his first and second wives respectively, said his consistent abuse led to their respective divorces.

Holdnerness married Porter in 2003, and told CNN on Wednesday that the physical abuse began almost immediately. The couple went to the Canary Islands for their honeymoon, where Porter kicked her thigh during an argument, she said.

She alleged that Porter's repeated physically abusive behavior included throwing her on the bed, choking her and forcefully pushing one of his limbs into her body. During a trip to Italy, she said he punched her in the face.

Willoughby married Porter in 2009, and told CNN she endured emotional abuse from Porter that included "intense" bursts of anger.

Porter issued a strong statement denying the allegations.

"These outrageous allegations are simply false," he said. "I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."

Porter's last day at the White House has not yet been set.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
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Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
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Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
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Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
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Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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