White House staff secretary Rob Porter announced his resignation on Wednesday amid allegations of domestic abuse leveled against him, and the top aide may leave the Trump administration as early as Thursday.
Porter's two ex-wives this week accused him of physically and emotionally abusing them during their marriages, the Daily Mail first reported. Colbie Holderness, Porter's first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter's second wife, both said that their ex-husband's abuse led them to file their respective divorces.
Porter, who has been dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, denied the allegations, but still said he would leave the administration at a later time to "ensure a smooth transition." That timeline appears to have been accelerated, however, as questions emerge about who in the White House knew about the allegations.
Both Fox News and the New York Times reported that Porter may leave as early as Thursday, after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders originally told reporters that his departure would not be "immediate." New reports have said that some aides were aware of the allegations for months.
Porter, a lawyer and former chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), joined the White House at the beginning of the Trump administration. In his role as staff secretary, he primarily controlled the flow of information onto President Donald Trump's desk.
The White House was initially supportive of Porter; chief of staff John Kelly called him "a man of true integrity and honor." Hicks was involved in drafting the White House's initial statement, according to reports.
Kelly later released another statement saying he was "shocked" by the allegations.
"I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society," 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," Kelly added.
Holdnerness, who married Porter in 2003, says that Porter beat her on a vacation in Florence, Italy and gave her a black eye, among other allegations. She shared pictures of the black eye to multiple media outlets.
"He was verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive, and that is why I left," she told the Daily Mail.
Willoughby, who married Porter in 2009 and divorced him in 2013, also says she endured physical and emotional abuse from her ex-husband. Among other allegations, she told CNN about an incident that happened during their honeymoon in Myrtle Beach.
"He started calling me names, calling me a ‘f***ing bitch,' how I behaved was ‘f***ing ridiculous' and most of that was instigated around my not having sex with him often enough on our honeymoon," she said.
In June 2010, Willoughby filed a protective order against Porter because he violated their separation agreement and would not leave their apartment.
Porter has denied the allegations.
"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," Porter said in a statement. "I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign."
A senior administration official told Politico that Kelly had been aware of the 2010 protective order against Porter, and that the order was why he was not able to obtain a full security clearance in the Trump administration.