Though their roles within the White House differed, the circumstances leading up to the resignations of Rob Porter and David Sorensen were largely the same.
On Feb. 7, Porter resigned from his role as White House staff secretary following a Daily Mail report where two of his ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, described instances of physical and verbal abuse by Porter during the course of their marriages.
Holderness, Porter’s first wife, told Daily Mail that the verbal and emotional abuse was severe enough to cause her to take a leave of absence from grad school, and provided photographic evidence of a time that she says Porter punched her in the face during a vacation to Italy in 2000.
Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, told the Today Show that Porter once followed her to the bathroom before grabbing her shoulders to drag her out of the shower. She also describes an incident in which Porter punched a hole in her front door, after which she filed for a temporary restraining order.
Porter denied the womens’ claims saying “the outrageous allegations are simply false,” in a statement released alongside his resignation.
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On Feb. 9, Sorensen resigned from his role as a speechwriter after his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, told The Washington Post that Sorensen had physically and emotionally abused her throughout their entire marriage.
Corbett, who said she made the FBI aware of the abuse when interviewed last year as apart of her husband’s background check, claims that Sorensen left her fearing for her life after throwing her into a wall and grasping her by her hair during an altercation on a boat off of the coast of Maine.
She also provided verbally abusive text messages and emails as well as a photo of a scar she said was a result of a cigarette burn from Sorensen.
Sorensen, like Porter, vehemently denies the allegations being made against him.
“In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her,” he said in a statement. “This incident is an opportunity to highlight the grossly underreported and unacknowledged issue of female-on-male domestic violence.”
When asked about the situation following the release of the first reports, President Donald Trump referred to the allegations against Porter specifically as “sad” before going on to further support Porter’s claim of innocence. “He also, as you know, says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”
Trump then wished Porter well in his future endeavors and spoke of his positive contributions to the administration.
“It’s obviously a very tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House,” Trump told reporters.
The president and his entire administration have received a lot of scrutiny for their response to both allegations. Supporters feel the president was simply stressing the need for due process during such allegations, and critics feel that the president’s statements were inadequate.
Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) told CNN that he was “disappointed” in the way the president handled himself, given the amount of evidence in this specific context.
UD alumna, Erin Frey ‘17, told Flyer News that these sorts of reactions by the Trump administration are making it hard for her to identify as a Republican.
“Supporting this administration’s ridiculous reaction sends a message that accusations as serious as this only hold true if the accused is not in a position of power,” she explained.
“That is a dangerous and untimely message to send, at best. Every person, every woman, every victim, deserves to have a leader who is not afraid to come to their defense, even if it means going against someone who identifies with the same political party as they do,” Frey said.