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The Latest: Speechwriter resigns after abuse allegations

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:28 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 1:27 PM


            White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, left, walks out of the Oval Office as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and campaign volunteer Shane Bouvet, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, left, walks out of the Oval Office as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens during a meeting between President Donald Trump and campaign volunteer Shane Bouvet, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Latest on the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter (all times local):

8 p.m.

A second White House staffer has departed the Trump administration in the wake of abuse allegations.

Spokesman Raj Shah confirms speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday after the White House learned of the allegations against him.

Shah says Sorensen denies the allegations, which were first reported by The Washington Post.

The Post says Sorensen's ex-wife claimed he was violent and emotionally abusive during their short-lived marriage.

Staff secretary Rob Porter, one of the president's closest aides, resigned Wednesday after the publication of allegations that he'd abused his two ex-wives. He, too, denies the allegations.

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6:45 p.m.

The White House has announced who will replace former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned this week amid domestic abuse allegations.

Former deputy staff secretary Derek Lyons has been promoted to acting staff secretary. The Harvard Law School grad previously worked as a senior adviser to Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential campaign and Sen. Rob Portman, according to his Linkedin profile.

Porter resigned Wednesday amid allegations that he had abused two former ex-wives. He has denied the allegations and says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

The announcement came as part of a slew of promotions announced by the White House Wednesday evening.

Trump has also tapped former Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Carroll to serve as the next drug czar.

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4:40 p.m.

White House chief of staff John Kelly says a senior aide's resignation came within an hour of learning about new accusations of spousal abuse.

Kelly tells reporters he learned Tuesday night that staff secretary Rob Porter, the chief of staff's right-hand man, had allegedly abused two ex-wives.

Kelly says, "Forty minutes later he was gone."

The White House announced Wednesday that Porter had resigned. That same day, it issued a statement from Kelly praising Porter.

Kelly's handling of the Porter matter has cast a harsh spotlight on the chief of staff, who has recently drawn the ire of President Donald Trump.

But a White House official said Friday that Kelly has not offered his resignation.

Porter has denied the allegations and blamed a "smear campaign" against him.

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1:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he hopes an aide who resigned this week in the wake of domestic abuse allegations has "a great career ahead of him."

Trump tells reporters at a surprise appearance Friday that former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter did "a very good job while he was in the White House" and adds: "We wish him well."

Porter has been accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives and a former girlfriend. He has denied the charges.

Trump tells reporters he was surprised by the abuse allegations and called the news "very sad."

Trump is also stressing that Porter maintains he is innocent. He says: "I think you have to remember that."

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1 a.m.

Pressure is mounting on White House chief of staff John Kelly amid questions about his defense of a senior aide he fought to keep in a highly sensitive West Wing job despite accusations of spousal abuse from two ex-wives.

White House staff secretary Rob Porter, a member of President Donald Trump's inner circle and arguably Kelly's closest aide, cleaned out his desk on Thursday. But the aftershocks of his resignation continue amid concerns about his access to classified information.

Kelly himself faced criticism for initially defending his aide — only to later shift course after the publication of photos showing one of Porter's ex-wives with a black eye.

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Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:39 PM
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

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Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:26 PM

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House Oversight Committee launches probe into Rob Porter's employment

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 2:40 PM

Who is Rob Porter?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating the White House’s employment of staff secretary Rob Porter in the wake of allegations that he abused his two ex-wives, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, said Wednesday.

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Porter submitted his resignation Feb. 2.

Gowdy told CNN that the committee launched a probe Tuesday night into Porter’s employment and when White House officials knew about the domestic violence allegations levied against him.

Porter has denied any wrongdoing.

"We are directing inquiries to people that we think have access to information we don't have. You can call it official. You can call it unofficial,” Gowdy told CNN. “I'm going to direct questions to the FBI that I expect them to answer.”

Porter resigned Feb. 2 after his ex-wives went public with allegations of domestic abuse and said they spoke with federal authorities about the claims, prompting critics to question why he had remained employed in the Trump administration. The allegations held up a background check needed to grant Porter a security clearance for work in the White House. Officials said he was working on an interim security clearance.

The process to get Porter his clearance was ongoing at the time of his resignation.

“How do you have any job if you have credible allegations of domestic abuse?” Gowdy asked on CNN. “I am biased toward the victim.”

>> Related: White House ‘could have done better’ handling Rob Porter allegations, spokesman says

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, and his second, Jennifer Willoughby, told the FBI about the alleged domestic violence in January 2017, after they were contacted while Porter was applying for his security clearance, according to The Washington Post.

White House officials defended Porter in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and President Donald Trump has faced criticism for what critics called his lack of care for the victims and his focus on the fact that Porter has denied the claims.

“I was surprised by (the allegations), but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him,” Trump told reporters in Washington on Friday. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career. … It was very said when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with White House Secretary Rob Porter (C) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) (R) as they return to the White House December 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Holderness told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive throughout their relationship, which started in 2000, but that things escalated after they were wed in June 2003. She said Porter kicked her during their honeymoon and during a 2005 vacation in Italy, punched her in the face.

Willoughby, who married Porter in November 2009 and separated from him in early 2010, told The Daily Mail that Porter was verbally abusive.

Willoughby obtained a protective order against Porter in June 2010 after she said he violated their separation agreement and refused to leave her apartment, according to court records obtained by The Daily Mail. In the complaint, Willoughby said Porter punched in a glass door while she was locked inside the apartment, but left after he heard she was on the phone with police.

She told the Mail that in December 2010, he dragged her out of a shower while she was naked in order to yell at her.

The couple was divorced in 2013.

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Veteran resident dies, receives patriotic farewell from nursing home

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

File image of the American flag.
Christopher Bruno, Freeimages
File image of the American flag.(Christopher Bruno, Freeimages)

A veterans nursing home in South Carolina honored a resident who died this week with a patriotic farewell that has gone viral.

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In a Facebook post, Laura Dorn thanked the Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home in Anderson for taking such good care of her father, Doug Timmons, who had Alzheimer's disease and was a resident of the facility for the last three years. Dorn wrote that her father died early Thursday morning and the staff took the time to honor him for his service as his body was removed from the facility. In a video that Dorn posted, Timmons' body, draped with an American flag, is wheeled out as staff line up and a musical tribute plays.

In a Facebook review of the nursing home, Dorn thanked the "caring, accommodating and selfless" staff who she said treated her father like family. Dorn wrote, "They treated my Dad with dignity and respect from the first moment there until he drew his last breath, then sent him off with a hero's procession."

The video has received more than 3 million views.

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