Kirsten Gillibrand Says Rob Porter Is Just One Part Of A Bigger Problem
In a lengthy tweetstorm Friday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said that Rob Porter, the White House official who resigned Wednesday over abuse allegations, is only part of the problem. A former top aide to President Trump, Porter left his post after two of his ex-wives accused him of physically and verbally abusing them during their respective marriages. Porter denies the claims, telling Politico that the "these outrageous allegations are simply false."
However, Gillibrand argued that the accusations against Porter can't be seen as isolated incidents that exist in a vacuum. Instead, the New York senator argued, they're part of a larger pattern in the Trump White House, one that's worth looking at in-depth.
"This is an important time to talk about this WH and whether they value women," Gillibrand wrote in the first of many tweets. "Because, consistently, their actions tell us they don’t."
Gillibrand proceeded to document many incidents that she said were indicative of the White House's attitude toward women, complete with sources and quotes. Throughout the course of a 14-tweet thread, Gillibrand touched on everything from the president's policy initiatives on pay equity and reproductive rights to the White House's handling of the Porter scandal itself.
"This isn’t normal," Gillibrand wrote in one tweet. "It isn’t acceptable. And in our families, our communities, and our workplaces we need to speak the message about the value of women in our words and our deeds."
Colbie Holderness, Porter's first ex-wife, told the FBI in 2017 that Porter had punched her in the face when they were married in the early 2000s, according to the Intercept, and provided the bureau with gruesome photos of her face after the alleged assault. In his resignation statement, Porter said that he'd taken the photos in question and that "the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described." He didn't explain what the "reality behind them" truly was, though.
"He was verbally, emotionally and physically abusive and that is why I left," Holderness told the Daily Mail, which broke the story.
The FBI also interviewed Porter's second ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby, who said that in 2010, her then-husband grabbed her by the shoulders, pulled her naked from the shower and screamed at her. She filed a protective order against him that year, the Daily Mail reported.
The controversy surrounding Porter didn't end when he resigned. Several top White House officials defended Porter before and after his departure — and CNN reported Thursday that senior aides to the president knew about the accusations against Porter months before they were made public.
"Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can’t say enough good things about him," Kelly said after the assault allegations against Porter were made public. "He is a friend, a confidante, and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also praised Porter, saying in a statement that he'd "been effective in his role as staff secretary."
Kelly later released a second statement, saying he was "shocked" by the accusations "there is no place for domestic violence in our society." However, CNN reported Kelly and several other senior officials had known for months that both of Porter's ex-wives had accused him of abusing them, and according to Politico, Kelly specifically knew about the 2010 protective order Willoughby filed against Porter. There was no effort in the White House to remove or reassign Porter during this time.
"It all goes back to the President himself. He has over a dozen credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him and has bragged, on video, about sexually assaulting women," Gillibrand wrote. "The President absolutely should be held accountable, and hearings should have already been conducted into these serious allegations. But the GOP Congress looks the other way in abdication of its responsibility to provide oversight."
Shortly after Gillibrand published her tweetstorm, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned over allegations that he, too, had physically assaulted his ex-wife. Sorensen denied the allegations, telling the Post that in fact, it was his ex-wife who'd assaulted him.
"Our next chance at holding this President and the WH accountable comes on November 6, 2018, when we can flip the House and Senate and bring back some accountability," Gillibrand wrote at the end of her thread. "Every day between now and then, let us organize, advocate, and fight to make sure women’s voices are heard and valued."