Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said Tuesday he was ‘shocked’ to hear about allegations of spousal abuse against his former general counsel Rob Porter.
Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned last week after his two ex-wives came forward publicly with allegations of spousal abuse, previously worked as a top aide for Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.
On a press call Tuesday, Portman, a Republican from Terrace Park. said during the months Porter was employed by his office he heard nothing about Porter’s private behavior or allegations of misconduct outside of the workplace.
“I was shocked to hear about it,” said Portman. “The allegations are deeply troubling. There was no indication of that when he worked for me but I think any type of abuse is abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Portman said standard interviews, reference checks, and background investigations into Porter revealed nothing unusual or amiss about his character or temperament.
A lawyer, Rhodes scholar and Harvard graduate, Porter served as Portman’s General Counsel for 10 months, from June 2013 to March 2014, according to Porter’s LinkedIn profile.
Porter worked in Portman’s office when Porter and his second ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby divorced in Nov. 2013.
He was married to his first wife, Colbie Holderness from 2003 to 2005.
Willoughby and Porter married in 2009. A year later, Willoughby received a temporary emergency protective order against Porter after she accused him of refusing to leave her residence.
Reporting by the New York Times and Washington Post revealed Porter, even while serving in the capacity of staff secretary for over a year, was not granted a permanent security clearance, which led to questions as to when or who in White House knew about the allegations made against him.
“I’m not sure what happened at the White House,” Portman said on a Tuesday conference call with Ohio reporters. “Clearly they should’ve found out this information through the normal process and taken the actions that they eventually took which was to have Rob Porter leave the White House.”
As general counsel to Portman, Porter did not need a high-level security clearance.
Porter also worked as counsel to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and was Sen. Orrin Hatch Chief of Staff (R-UT) for just shy of three years.
As staff secretary to President Trump, Porter helped determine what documents reached the President’s desk. He was reportedly credited with helping to write Trump’s State of the Union address.