News, Culture & Society

WH Chief of Staff knew in OCTOBER of Rob Porter’s abuse

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was told in October 2017 that staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wives were prepared to level devastating accusations of spousal abuse against him.

Porter’s then-girlfriend told Kelly personally that Porter had abused his two exes, according to a White House official.

White House counsel Don McGahn had known since early 2017 that Porter was at risk of being accused of being violent with the women.

But the news made it to Kelly when Porter’s girlfriend told him, after contacting a White House aide who reported to him.

President Donald Trump was not informed about Porter’s alleged history of abuse until Tuesday night when first reported the ex-wives’ claims.

John Kelly, who has faced criticism for initially defending Porter earlier this week, was told in October that Porter had physically abused his two ex-wives

Kelly sent a memo to staffers in the wake of the 'shocking and troubling' allegations of spousal abuse against Porter on Thursday evening

Kelly sent a memo to staffers in the wake of the ‘shocking and troubling’ allegations of spousal abuse against Porter on Thursday evening

Colbie Holderness, Porter's first wife, told that while the two were married, Porter repeatedly punched and choked her

Porter's second wife Jennifer Willoughby said her abusive marriage included one gterrifying moment when Porter dragged her, naked, out of the shower

Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, (left) claims he repeatedly punched and choked her. His second wife Jennifer Willoughby has also claimed that Porter was abusive in their marriage

The Washington Post reported Friday that McGahn was aware of the potential crisis a year ago. Politico reported that Kelly knew long before first reported about Porter’s spousal abuse.

Kelly also learned from federal law enforcement in November, weeks after Porter’s live-in girlfriend spoke with him, that accusations against Porter were keeping him from receiving a permanent security clearance.

But he continued to give Porter more and more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president. is not identifying the girlfriend because she is a victim of domestic abuse accusations.

The White House declined to comment on Friday.

Porter has denied the ‘vile’ accusations, but was unceremoniously bounced from his White House job this week.

Kelly sent a memo to staffers on Thursday evening denouncing domestic violence in response to the ‘shocking and troubling’ allegations.


‘I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. 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. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.’

He has faced intense criticism for his defense of Porter, who was allowed to resign from his position as staff secretary earlier in the week.

In August 2017 Politico reported that a senior White House official said Kelly was ‘auditing everyone and figuring out what everyone’s role is, and if people are in the right place.’ 

He has refused to issue a mea culpa but claimed in an email to staff that he does not take allegations of physical abuse lightly.

‘While we are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence seriously,’ he wrote. ‘Domestic violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society.’

White House Counsel Don McGahn (left) was told a year ago that Porter's past spousal abuse might be an isse for the administration

White House Counsel Don McGahn (left) was told a year ago that Porter’s past spousal abuse might be an isse for the administration

The White House would not say Thursday when Kelly found out about the allegations but said he was 'fully aware' only on Wednesday

The White House would not say Thursday when Kelly found out about the allegations but said he was ‘fully aware’ only on Wednesday

Kelly added that there were resources available at the White House for those seeking counseling.

The memo, a copy of which was tweeted out by a CNN reporter, had the subject headline: ‘A Letter from the Chief of Staff.’

Kelly issued the memo on Thursday as pressure mounted on him to abandon his support for Porter, whom he’d fought to keep in a highly-sensitive West Wing job after a first wave of accusations of spousal abuse.

Porter stepped down from his role as White House staff secretary on Wednesday following on-the-record claims to from his ex-wives Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby about the abuse they say they suffered during their marriages to the former Trump aide.

Holderness claims Porter choked and punched her during their marriage, while Willoughby says he dragged her wet and naked out of the shower and was verbally abusive. 

The White House has refused to say when Kelly found out about the allegations.

A spokesman for President Trump would only admit that Kelly became ‘fully aware’ of the accusations when published photos of Porter’s first wife that she says were taken after he hit her during a vacation.

‘I’m not going to get into the specifics regarding who may have known what pieces of information because they were all part of an ongoing background check investigation,’ deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in his debut behind the White House podium. 

Shah called the images ‘graphic’ and the women’s allegations ‘credible’ in a televised briefing where Porter’s resignation consumed the discussion.

He said the White House official was ‘terminated’ on Wednesday, although Porter been seen on the property earlier in the day, as he drove a full-scale defense of the White House’s initial reaction to a pair of Daily Mail reports on the staff secretary’s past.