Rob Porter, a former Chief of Staff for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and the son of a former aide to President George H.W. Bush, served as White House Staff Secretary for the first one year and two weeks of the administration of President Donald Trump.
He resigned that post Wednesday, February 7, soon after news began circulating that both of his ex-wives have accused him of domestic violence. One of the women involved released a photo of herself with a black eye that, she says, she acquired when Porter punched her in the face. The other wife, Jennifer Willoughby, said that she field for an emergency protective order against him in 2010 after he refused to leave their apartment in violation of a separation agreement.
The impact of this development in the White House can only be heightened by Porter’s relationship with Hope Hicks, President Trump’s communications director. They are said to be romantically involved, and Hicks this week helped prepare a statement on behalf of the President effusively praising Porter as the spousal abuse allegations first went viral.
CNN, working from unnamed sources, say that Trump has become “frustrated” with Hicks, and is of the opinion that she is letting her emotional attachment cloud her political judgment.
Right Wing View
President Trump wished the departing Portman well on Friday. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”
Commentary Magazine, the flagship of “neo” conservatives, has taken a dim view of the Trump administration’s handling of the Porter matter. Noah Rothman says, under a headline that spells out that “The Rob Porter scandal is now the Trump scandal,” that one does not need to be especially astute to recognize that at this #MeToo moment in history “a scandal involving the claim that the president behaved with abhorrent callousness upon learning that one of his staffers allegedly beat women” is positively radioactive.
Mona Charen, at National Review (paleo-conservative), seems to agree with Rothman, although she does so while operating within so many layers of sarcasm and irony that it is hard to tell.
Jeanine Pirro, the host of a program on Fox News, said she thinks the former administration, that of President Obama, is to blame for Rob Portman receiving (interim) security clearance despite publicly available facts concerning such allegations. That wouldn’t have happened if the Obama crew had not worked “to gum up the works” regarding security clearances in general.
Left Wing View
The left wing view could perhaps best be expressed as, “we knew it all along.”
Novelist Steven King tweeted, “Blabbermouth Don’s support of Rob Porter, while ignoring the two women who claim Porter assaulted them, is the larger problem in a nutshell.”
Similarly William Antholis, writing in Politico, says that the facts as thus far known about Porter’s career within the Trump White House have raised “real questions about how Trump White House staff under both Reince Priebus and John Kelly handled sensitive information, and what both of them knew of the allegations against Porter and when they knew it.”
The Daily Beast has called the President’s reactions to the Portman scandal simply “unhinged.” Its reporter Gideon Resnick puts this in the context of POTUS’ “long history of casting doubt on women who allege sexual misconduct.”
A punch in the face, causing a photogenic black eye, is not an example of “sexual misconduct.” It is criminal battery.