Sorensen becomes second Trump aide to quit over abuse claims

After departure of Rob Porter, speechwriter is second Trump staffer this week to leave job

John F. Kelly was brought into the White House as Chief of Staff to restore order to a chaotic West Wing. But recently, the White House chief of staff has been finding himself at the centre of the controversy.

 

A White House speechwriter resigned Friday amid allegations of domestic abuse, the second such departure this week.

David Sorensen resigned after his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, told the Washington Post that she had informed the FBI last autumn that Mr Sorensen had physically and emotionally abused her during their two-and-a-half year marriage.

Mr Sorensen denied the allegations, the Post reported, and claimed that he was abused by her.

“Before we were contacted by the media, we learned last night that there were allegations,” the White House deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, said in a statement.

“We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today.”

Mr Sorensen’s position did not require a security clearance and that his background check had not been completed.

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Mr Sorensen was a senior adviser to the Maine governor, Paul LePage.

Mr Sorensen told the Post that he “had never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life”.

He also stated that he resigned because he “didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction”.

Mr Sorensen’s resignation comes just two days after Rob Porter, Mr Trump’s staff secretary, resigned after two of his ex-wives made public allegations of physical and emotional abuse.

The departure of Mr Porter has roiled Mr Trump’s already chaotic White House.

Criticism

Mr Trump continued to defend Mr Porter on Friday as criticism mounted of his chief of staff, John Kelly, over his handling of the allegations.

Ms Corbett contacted the Post before the allegations against Mr Porter became public this week.

She alleged that Mr Sorensen ran over her foot with his car, extinguished a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall, and made her fear for her life while they were on a boat off the coast of Maine.

“Everyone can think you’re the most wonderful guy, but you’re throwing women into walls by night,” she told the Post.

The Post interviewed two friends and associates of Ms Corbett who said that she had told them about the abuse at the time. She also showed the Post text messages and emails from Mr Sorensen and a photograph of an apparent cigarette burn on her hand.

Mr Sorensen alleged that Ms Corbett punched him multiple times and once grabbed the steering wheel while he was driving on a highway.

He also provided the Post with photographs of his own scrapes and bruises. “This incident is an opportunity to highlight the grossly underreported and unacknowledged issue of female-on-male domestic violence,” he told the Post in a statement. The couple divorced in September.

Mr Sorensen worked at the Council on Environmental Quality, which is part of the Executive Office of the President. A Maine newspaper, the Portland Press Herald, noted in a May 2017 article on Sorensen’s decision to join the Trump administration that the Republican had “a reputation as an aggressive and sometimes combative political operative”.

Mr Sorensen or Ms Corbett could not immediately be reached for comment. - Guardian