President Trump’s Chief of Staff is former General John Kelly, and he has been hailed as the man to bring order and stability to the White House. Well, now the White House is in complete disarray, and Kelly’s office is the entire reason why. Staff secretary Rob Porter is Kelly’s deputy, and he was responsible for vetting all the paperwork that reached Trump’s desk. I use the past tense because he stepped down today.
Earlier this week, the Daily Mail published a report from Porter’s second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, saying that Porter “pulled me, naked and dripping from the shower to yell at me.” She filed a protective order against him because he “was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive and that is why I left.” John Kelly responded to this story by releasing a statement calling Porter “a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”
The following day, Porter’s first wife came forward with evidence of abuse.
Kelly reportedly tried to convince Porter to stay and fight after the second story came out, but the firestorm was too large to deal with. According to Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair, Kelly's passionate defense of Porter has upset many in the White House. Making matters worse for the supposed adult in the West Wing, CBS reported that the White House knew of Porter's abuse in November. Per CBS:
In a June 2010 statement to authorities in Arlington, Virginia, Willoughby said Porter punched the glass on their front door. “I called the police,” she wrote. “I was afraid he would break in.”
Willoughby wrote on Instagram in April 2017: “Just after our one-year anniversary, he pulled me, naked and dripping, from the shower to yell at me … When I tried to get help, I was counseled to consider carefully how what I said might affect his career. And so I kept my mouth shut and stayed.”
National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss outlined on Twitter why this portion of this disheartening saga is such a big deal.
Porter is denying the allegations, and his former boss, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, is also defending him.
Hatch isn’t just defending Porter, but also attacking his wives, as he told The Intercept when they reached out to him when compiling their report: “It’s incredibly discouraging to see such a vile attack on such a decent man. Shame on any publication that would print this — and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name.”
For those keeping score at home, the upper echelons of the Republican Party have vigorously defended white supremacists, a child molester and now a credibly accused domestic abuser in less than a year. The party of Lincoln has become the party of immoral depravity.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.