'Where there is abuse, there is cover-up': Rob Porter's ex-wife slams Trump for supporting former aid after abuse allegations

  • Jennie Willoughby, the ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, criticized President Trump and others for their continued support of Porter following abuse allegations.
  • "If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?" Willoughby wrote in a column for Time.
  • President Trump has emphasized Porter's claims of his innocence and said false accusations can "shatter" people's lives. 

Jennie Willoughby, the ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, slammed President Donald Trump for continuing to support his former aide in the face of what she calls "overwhelming evidence" of his domestic abuse. 

In a column published in Time magazine on Sunday, Willoughby said she was "floored" by Trump's defense of Porter, less than a week after Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, another of ex-wife of Porter's, both accused him of abusing them when they were married.

"My friend turned to me and said, 'The President of the United States just called you a liar,'" Willoughby wrote. "Yes. And so he did."

Porter resigned from his White House post on Wednesday after news outlets published photos of black eyes that Holderness, who was married to Porter from 2003 to 2008, said her ex-husband gave her while they were married. 

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Rob Porter in his White House role
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Rob Porter in his White House role
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter watches as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with North Korean defectors in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, Feb. 02, 2018. President Donald Trump talked to reporters and members of the media about the release of a secret memo on the F.B.I.'s role in the Russia inquiry. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (C) says hello to reporters as he and White House advisors Sebastian Gorka (from L), Omarosa Manigault and Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci accompany President Trump for an event celebrating veterans at AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers, Ohio, U.S., July 25, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "The most visible person in any White House is naturally the President, followed by the press secretary. But there are also the staff who support them, any one of whom might suddenly jump into public view and be national news for a day or two. For those of us covering the President Trump administration, there seem to be more compelling figures in the West Wing than ever before. It's crucial to know who's who and why they're important. When I raised my camera and back-pedalled ahead of the group to take this image Lewandowski gave me a hello and pointed right into the lens. I liked the photo, but had no idea it would go a little bit viral, especially since Scaramucci, who was the biggest mover and shaker that week, was hidden back in the pack. But I guess the image catches a glimpse of what it's like to be a West Wing staffer on the road."REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File photo SEARCH "POY STORY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 01: Rob Porter, right, White House staff secretary, and Don McGahn, White House counsel, attend a luncheon featuring a speech by President Donald Trump at the House and Senate Republican retreat at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on February 1, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor for policy, right, talks to Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. In a speech to congressional Republicans at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia today, Trump recognized the party's leadership and then riffed on his election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: White House chief of staff John Kelly, (L), walks with staff secretary Rob Porter, (C), and White House senior advisor Stephen Miller, before boarding Marine One to depart from the White House with President Donald Trump, on February 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) and Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller (C) return to the White House after a day trip with President Donald Trump to Cincinnati, Ohio, February 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. While in Ohio President Trump delivered remarks after touring cylinder manufacturer Sheffer Corporation while the first lady Melania Trump visited patients and their families at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, right, Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor for policy, left, and Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, walk toward the White House after arriving on Marine One with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Trump today threw a wrench into negotiations over a shutdown-avoiding spending bill by saying he didn't want a provision funding children's health insurance in the short-term measure. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter to depart with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard the Marine One helicopter from the White House in Washington, U.S. November 29, 2017. Picture taken November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) arrives aboard Air Force One with fellow senior staff and U.S. President Donald Trump for a summer vacation at his Bedminster estate, at Morristown Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, U.S. August 4, 2017. Picture taken August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn (R) talks with White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) as they arrive with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One at Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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In remarks with reporters on Friday, Trump urged people to remember that Porter had claimed "very strongly" that he was innocent. Trump also tweeted on Saturday that people's "lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false." 

According to Willoughby, Trump's behavior reveals a tendency many people have to deny abuse. While the #MeToo movement spurred people to come forward to discuss and address abuse, especially sexual assault, Willoughby argued Trump's response to Porter is a major step backwards.

"This is a societal issue, and the tone has just been reset by the White House," Willoughby wrote. "If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?"

Willoughby, Porter's wife from 2009 to 2013, provided news outlets with a copy of a 2010 protective order she filed against her ex-husband. She told CNN that she lived in a state of "low-grade, constant terror" during her marriage.

29 PHOTOS
Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. President Donald Trump's encounter this week at the Group of 20 summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin is raising concerns among veteran American diplomats and analysts about a mismatch between a U.S. president new to global affairs and a wily former Soviet spymaster. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Despite Porter's resignation soon after the scandal became public, the White House has been criticized for its handling of the case. High-ranking officials, including White House counsel Don McGahn and head of communications Hope Hicks reportedly knew about the allegations before media outlets broke the story last week. (Hicks is reportedly dating Porter.)

Willoughby said she was unsurprised by the White House's hesitancy to admit that a colleague could have a history of abuse. 

"Where there is denial, there is underlying fear," she wrote. "Where there is abuse, there is cover-up."

Willoughby ended her piece with a reassurance to other survivors of abuse that they are not alone.

"In light of the President's and the White House's continued dismissal of me and Colbie, I want to assure you my truth has not been diminished," she wrote. "I own my story and now that I have been compelled to share it, I’m not willing to cover it up for anyone."

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SEE ALSO: The Trump White House has been plagued by rumors of illicit romances — and now Hope Hicks is at the center

 

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