— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) February 8, 2018
Jennifer Willoughby, the former wife to former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, told the FBI during an interview for her ex’s security clearance that he abused her. This disclosure included access to a 2010 protective order she made, and police calls she made against Porter, according to a new report on NBC. Reporter Kristen Welker pointed out that one of the questions involved whether he could be blackmailed.
“I actually had difficulty answering that question because I believe that the people who had the power to blackmail him would be women who had been in personal relationships with him,” Willoughby said. “So, in short, the answer could be ‘maybe.'”
The Intercept previously reported that the FBI spoke to both of Porter’s ex-wives during his background check.
She first made her allegations against Porter public in a April 24, 2017 blog post, though she didn’t name him. Even so, Porter kept his White House job until The Daily Mail kept digging, and discovered that first wife Colbie Holderness also claimed he abused her. She produced photographs in which she has a black eye.
Porter left his government job once the claims became high-profile, telling Axios in a statement that “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.”
Now the White House is under scrutiny over when and where officials knew about Porter’s history. White House spokesman Raj Shah said Thursday that the FBI background check was never finished.
“His background investigation was ongoing,” Shah said. “His clearance was never denied, and he resigned.”
Porter served in the White House starting January 20, 2017.
[Screengrab via NBC]