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Robert Roger Porter (born October 25, 1977) is an American lawyer and former political aide who served as White House Staff Secretary for President Donald Trump from January 20, 2017, until February 7, 2018. He was previously Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
In late November 2017, a girlfriend of Porter’s alerted her friend, White House Counsel Don McGahn, regarding Porter’s “anger problems”. Porter’s ex-wife Willoughby had sought and received a three-day emergency protective order against him in June 2010. Photographs of Holderness with a black eye and her detailed accounts of Porter’s alleged abuse were also made public. Despite their testimonies and evidence presented, Porter denied his ex-wives’ allegations and resigned from his staff secretary post after they became public. Willoughby stated “I don’t want to be married to him. I would not recommend anyone to date him or marry him. But I definitely want him in the White House and the position he is in. I think his integrity and ability to do his job is impeccable.”
Porter resigned from the position of White House Staff Secretary on February 7, 2018, following public allegations of spousal abuse from his two ex-wives. The allegations were supported by photographs of a black eye (which Porter claimed he took) and a restraining order. Porter has said the allegations are false and are part of a “coordinated smear campaign”. The Washington Post reported that White House counsel Donald McGahn had known since January 2017 about the allegations Porter’s ex-wives made to the FBI, and that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly had known about the allegations since October 2017, still promoting Porter after. Post reporter Aaron Blake wrote that this development made the allegations a “full-blown scandal”.
Asked by reporters two days after Porter’s resignation, President Donald Trump commented, “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well, he did a very good job when he was at the White House.” In mid-February 2018, it was reported that Senator Hatch had sent letters to Porter’s former wives, apologizing for initially defending Porter in response to their accusations against him.
Kelly told reporters on March 2, 2018 that he sought Porter’s resignation immediately after learning of the accusations on February 6 and regretted his handling of Porter’s departure; he also said that contrary to earlier White House statements, Porter’s background check had been completed by the FBI, as had been disputed publicly by bureau director, Christopher Wray.