The more we learn about accused domestic abuser and onetime top aide to President Donald Trump Rob Porter, the worse he seems. Thursday night provided two different accounts of the depths of Porter’s inhumanity.
One of the main factors in Porter’s ouster as White House Staff Secretary was a set of graphic photos his ex-wife Colbie Holderness produced of a black eye she claimed he’d given her during their marriage.
According to the Washington Post, however, Porter has been attempting to explain away the photos by blaming... a vase. “He has privately told others that they were arguing over a vase, and she was somehow hit with the vase,” the paper reported on Thursday night. (“Somehow” is doing a lot of work there.)
Porter also reportedly spent the days before the allegations against him went public trying desperately to do damage control. Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday evening, his other ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, claimed that he’d tried in the last two weeks to convince her to remove an Instagram post she’d written about her abusive marriage, though the post did not name him. (She put the same post on her blog.)
She also said that Porter had been attempting to convince her to help him in just the last “couple days”:
WILLOUGHBY: We were in contact, even a couple days ago, as he was asking me to release a statement about my blog post, and I went back and forth with him for an hour or so about what language I would be comfortable with, and ultimately, the language he asked I wasn’t comfortable with. And he came out with that statement less than an hour later.
COOPER: Can you say what he wanted to this?
WILLOUGHBY: I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of the post does not accurately depict my marriage. And there were some other things that were associated with it, and that just didn’t feel right to me because it does accurately depict my marriage. And another thing that he wanted me to say was that I had taken some liberties with this therapeutic post, which it was for me, that I’d taken liberties with that therapeutic post. And when I thought about it, I didn’t. The things that I said were factual statements.
“He was asking me to downplay it,” she concluded. “He was asking me to emphasize more of the relationship that he and I have now as opposed to what I experienced in our marriage.”
White House staff have been quick to both defend Porter’s character, while simultaneously feigning outrage at his alleged abuse. But Willoughby expressed concern for one of the key players in the saga—current White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who is reportedly in a relationship with Porter and who has been helping to lead the White House response to the scandal.
“It definitely worries me because, if I’m being frank with you, if he hasn’t already been abusive with Hope, he will,” she said.
Watch Willoughby’s full interview with Cooper below.