White House staff secretary Rob Porter has resigned amid allegations from two ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse, news that overshadowed talk of military parades, government shutdowns and even budget deals at today’s White House press briefing.
The resignation comes after one of Porter’s ex-wives, Colbie Holderness, a senior analyst for the U.S. government, provided the DailyMail.com with a photo of herself with a blackened eye.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today read Porter’s statement: ‘These outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described. I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign. My commitment to public service speaks for itself. I have always put duty to country first and treated others with respect. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served in the Trump Administration and will seek to ensure a smooth transition when I leave the White House.”
President Donald Trump had previously offered his trust and support of Porter, but has now accepted his resignation. Asked about the seeming shift, Sanders said that the resignation “was a personal decision that Rob made and one that he was not pressured to do.”
Porter’s resignation hijacked at least some of the press briefing’s focus even as Senate leaders had just announced a budget agreement that would raise caps on military and domestic spending but that did not address either the funding of a border wall or DACA.
And despite Trump’s repeated calls this week for a government shutdown over the wall funding, Huckabee Sanders today walked back the demand and said the president was pleased with the “direction” of the Senate’s budget agreement.
Huckabee Sanders also eased up on the parade talk, insisting that her boss is merely “brainstorming” and exploring “ways to highlight and show the pride we have in the military.”
Speaking at the press briefing before Huckabee Sanders took the podium, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis foreshadowed the parade walk-back, saying the president had merely asked the military to explore options.
“We’re all aware in this country of the President’s affection and respect for the military,” Mattis said. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for decision.”
Trump reportedly was inspired by last summer’s Bastille Day parade in Paris, and this week ordered the Pentagon to look into something similar. The idea was immediately criticized by, among many others, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who told MSNBC, “Let’s put money into the quality of life and military families who sacrifice with our men and women in uniform” and “let’s make sure that we’re doing something to stop the waiting lines in veteran’s hospitals. That’s a good way to put money, taxpayers’ money — investing in our troops, investing in our veterans instead of the amusement of the president.”