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.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Florence
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Scottsboro
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 22566

Reported Deaths: 364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson504062
Shelby4943111
Trousdale13924
Rutherford119623
Sumner88145
Hamilton79415
Bledsoe6071
Williamson55210
Putnam4795
Robertson4653
Tipton4423
Out of TN4184
Lake4140
Wilson4078
Knox3755
Bedford2834
Montgomery2693
Rhea2100
Hardeman1960
Madison1752
Loudon1430
McMinn14114
Macon1363
Cheatham1230
Bradley1221
Fayette1152
Cumberland1121
Dickson1090
Unassigned920
Blount913
Maury890
Sevier812
Washington750
Coffee730
Wayne640
Gibson631
Monroe622
Sullivan602
Hickman580
Lauderdale561
Franklin531
Greene502
Dyer500
Marion401
Anderson401
DeKalb370
Hamblen362
Smith341
White330
Hawkins332
Lawrence310
Grundy311
Haywood312
Marshall311
Obion301
Henry300
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Overton260
Meigs260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Warren230
Cannon210
Perry210
Cocke200
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Jackson170
Crockett162
Roane160
Polk160
Johnson160
Henderson150
Hardin152
Sequatchie150
Humphreys131
Fentress120
McNairy120
Chester120
Giles120
Scott120
Stewart110
Claiborne90
Houston80
Grainger80
Clay70
Benton71
Decatur50
Unicoi40
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Moore30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events