White House faces scrutiny after aide resigns over abuse claims

Allegations against Rob Porter come as government tries to avert another shutdown

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

The White House has become embroiled in a fresh controversy after an aide to US president Donald Trump was forced to resign after allegations of domestic abuse.

Rob Porter has been a low-profile but senior member of the West Wing staff since Mr Trump’s inauguration, but the White House confirmed he is leaving his position after two ex-wives alleged he had physically and emotionally assaulted them.

Mr Porter has denied the allegations but has offered his resignation.

It has also emerged that Mr Porter had not yet received full White House security clearance, despite working for the president over the course of a year. Several senior White House officials are believed to have been aware about the allegations against Mr Porter, though Mr Trump was only informed of the reports this week.

Questions in particular have emerged about chief of staff John Kelly’s handling of the affair.

Mr Kelly defended Mr Porter earlier this week in a statement, describing the 40-year-old as “a man of true integrity and honour”.

“I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him,” he said. It has been reported that White House communications director Hope Hicks, who has been romantically involved with Mr Porter, helped draft Mr Kelly’s statement.

But by Wednesday, when photographs emerged of his ex-wife Colbie Holderness with facial injuries that she alleged she sustained at the hand of Mr Porter, Mr Kelly issued a fresh statement.

Stating that there was “no place for domestic violence in our society”, he said: “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.”

Democratic senators called for a congressional inquiry into security clearance procedures at the White House on the back of Mr Porter’s resignation.They also noted that the White House had not yet disclosed whether Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner had been granted permanent security clearance.

Spending Bill

The scandal unfolded as negotiations continued on Capitol Hill on a budget deal to avert a government shutdown that was due to come into effect at midnight on Thursday if a spending Bill was not agreed.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a record eight-hour speech on the House floor on Wednesday, in which she set out her opposition to the Bill on offer by the Senate, and called for a deal to be done on “Dreamers”, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US by their parents as children.

The Senate agreed a two-year spending Bill on Wednesday which includes more than $300 billion of extra spending but it was facing continuing opposition in the House on Thursday as the shutdown deadline neared.

A core group of conservative Republicans also expressed their dissatisfaction with the package, which increases the federal debt and deficit.