The Washington Post reported Friday that White House speechwriter David Sorensen has resigned amidst allegations that he violently assaulted his ex-wife during their marriage. Sorensen strongly denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he has "never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life."
Jessica Corbett told the Post that, at various points throughout their two and a half year marriage, Sorensen ran over her foot with a car, extinguished a cigarette on her hand, threw her against a wall and grabbed her by the hair. Sorensen was then a policy advisor to Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a strong supporter of President Trump, and Corbett told the Post that she didn't report her allegations to police at the time due to Sorensen's connections to law enforcement officials.
Sorensen is the the second top White House official in two days to resign over allegations that they physically abused a former romantic partner. Rob Porter left his post as White House Staff Secretary on Wednesday after the Daily Mail reported that two of his ex-wives had accused him of physical and emotional abuse. Porter, who Politico described as "mostly unknown but deeply influential" in the White House, denied all of the allegations, calling them "outrageous" and "simply false."
Corbett told the Post that she informed the FBI of Sorensen's alleged assaults on her in October 2017, when they interviewed her for Sorensen's background check. White House officials said that Sorensen, who was a speechwriter Council on Environmental Quality, didn't require a security clearance for his position, and that his background check was "ongoing."
Two of Corbett's friends confirmed to the Post that she had told them during her marriage that Sorensen was being abusive. She also provided the newspaper with a picture of her hand depicting a scar that she said was from the cigarette burn, although the Post didn't publish the photo.
In his statement, however, Sorensen accused Corbett of physically abusing him, alleging that she punched him in the face several times during their marriage. Corbett told the Post that, although she did slap him on multiple occasions after he called her an obscene name, she never punched him or did anything beyond slapping.
“Everything I told you is 100 percent true and that is why he had to resign today,” Corbett told the Post.
With his and Porter's departures, Sorensen is the sixth senior executive branch official to resign in 48 hours. Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand and Deputy Chief of Staff John Carroll left their posts on Friday, while Mike Kortan, the FBI's assistant director for public affairs, and David Laufman, who headed the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, will also be resigning.
In addition, ABC News reported Friday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who's drawn significant criticism for his handling of the Porter episode, has told Trump that he's willing to resign as well. The White House said in a statement that Kelly "has not offered his resignation to the President."
Corbett and Sorensen were a well-known couple within the Maine political scene, according to the Post, and were in the "social and professional orbit" of LePage and his family. Corbett was a bridesmaid in the wedding of LePage's daughter in 2015; she told the Post that later in the same night, Sorensen slammed her against the wall during an argument. She told her mother afterwards that she was considering leaving her husband, and had been having suicidal thoughts.
“He’s killing me,” Corbett said of Sorensen in a text message reviewed by the Post.
Maine attorney Joanne Fryer told the Post that she'd asked Corbett at one point if Sorensen was physically abusive, and Corbett said he wasn't. Fryer added that "we think the world of Dave, frankly."
Corbett, however, said that she didn't reveal the true extent of Sorensen's alleged abuse out of concern for her own safety.
“I was scared,” Corbett told the newspaper. “I wanted help but wasn’t willing to admit how bad it was, because I didn’t feel safe.”