Indian-American Raj Shah conducts his first White House briefing

Marie Harrington
February 10, 2018

As The Washington Post reported this week, both Willoughby and Porter's first ex-wife had informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Porter's abusive behavior as part of his security clearance.

According to reports, he told congressional Democrats that the president was "uninformed" during the campaign when he promised a physical barrier spanning the entirety of the Southern border paid for by Mexico.

They came amid swirling questions about how White House chief of staff John Kelly had handled the matter and whether he could maintain his job despite Trump's growing frustration. The two men had lunch at the White House in recent weeks, before the Porter scandal erupted.

The scrutiny of Kelly increased when the CNN television network revealed that he and other senior White House officials had known the charges against Porter for months, and yet had defended and even promoted him to the West Wing.

Despite all of this, the White House's first reaction this week to news of the spousal abuse allegations against Porter was to effusively praise and defend him.

When asked in a briefing on Thursday why the White House and Kelly had stood behind Porter amid the allegations, Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah acknowledged that communications had reflected their positive views of Porter as a colleague.

Trump's comments Friday were a sharp contrast to those of Vice-President Mike Pence, who told NBC's Lester Holt "there's no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse".

Willoughby said in her marriage, the abuse was verbal and emotional.

Shah, 33, has held this position since September previous year.

"It's important to remember that Rob Porter has repeatedly denied these allegations, and done so publicly".

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On that call, Porter asked Willoughby to downplay the allegations of abuse she was making against him, a request that she did not honor before publishing her post, entitled Why I Stayed.

She recalled an incident in which Porter allegedly followed her to the bathroom during a prolonged fight, grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her out of the shower "to continue the rage".

In his resignation statement, Porter said "these outrageous allegations are simply false". But Kelly handed Porter more responsibilities to control the flow of information to the president.

Both women also told CNN Wednesday that a third woman, a girlfriend of Porter's, contacted them for advice about how to deal with Porter's "repeated abuse". "Is there any other crime - and it's a crime -where there would be an explanation that the reason why we shouldn't pay attention to the transgression is because they're good at something?"

Amid questions about why Porter was forced to resign only after the allegations became public, Shah refused to give details about when and how Chief of Staff John Kelly in particular became aware of the claims.

Willoughby told the "Today" show Friday that she filed a temporary protective order against Porter after he punched in a door at their home while they were separated, because she "really didn't know what else he was capable of". And if you have not had it already, you will have it, "she said".

Holderness provided photos of her injuries to media. More than 15 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

"There was no coordination of this", she said.

President Trump was not told of the accusations until this week, two senior officials said, after they were first published by the Daily Mail, and he had grown fond of Porter in his job, which often put him by the president's side. Sanders said Porter would stay on for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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