- Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, met quietly with reporters last week to explain his side of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives.
- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly arranged the meeting after photos surfaced of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye.
- Porter told the reporters that his ex-wife had received the black eye from a fall following an argument they had over a Venetian glass vase, according to Politico.
Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, told reporters during an off-the-record meeting last week that one of his ex-wives had received a black eye due to a fall, not because he had struck her, Politico reported Tuesday.
The White House reportedly convened a hasty, off-the-record meeting between him and four prominent reporters shortly after news outlets published photos of the black eye he allegedly gave his first wife, Colbie Holderness, who accused him of punching her.
But according to Porter, Holderness fell and bruised her eye after the two fought over a Venetian glass vase while they were on vacation in Florence, Italy, according to Politico.
Porter reportedly confirmed at the meeting with the reporters that he intended to resign. But at that point, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and two other communications aides interrupted him to explain to the reporters that chief of staff John Kelly wanted Porter to stay.
Porter also admitted in the meeting that he called his second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, “a f—ing bitch.”
The group of reporters included Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post, Jonathan Swan of Axios, and Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal. None published the details Porter gave them, as the meeting was off-the-record.
The meeting wasn’t the first time Porter had brought up the vase in connection to Holderness’ injuries. The Washington Post reported last week that Porter has privately told people that the two were arguing over the vase, and Holderness somehow got hit with the vase.
Controversy over the abuse allegations has engulfed the entire West Wing in recent days as questions mount over what top officials — particularly chief of staff John Kelly — knew about Porter’s past, and when they learned of it.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday that the bureau told the White House about problems with Porter’s background check months ago.
Two White House officials told Politico that the White House’s mixed messages on the scandal show just how much Kelly is being left out to dry.
Kelly was the subject of several damning developments in recent days, including a Washington Post report last Friday that said Kelly told top staffers he took action to remove Porter from the White House within 40 minutes of learning of the allegations.
That version of events contrasts with Kelly’s actual response, which included initially giving the Daily Mail a glowing statement about Porter, calling him “a man of true integrity and honor.”
He later issued a second statement after the black eye photo emerged, saying he was “shocked by the new allegations” and that “there is no place for domestic violence in our society.” It’s unclear if Kelly knew about Porter’s off-the-record meeting with reporters.
Another report surfaced on Tuesday from CNN, who sources told that Porter was angling for a promotion before his ouster, and that he was being considered for the deputy chief of staff position.