JAMES CALABRESI ’20
A little under three weeks since the second Women’s March in Washington, the Daily Mail and the Intercept broke the story that White House aide Rob Porter had abused ex-wives Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness. Porter had been an early appointment to the role of Staff Secretary in the Trump Administration after serving under Senators Orrin Hatch (NV), Rob Portman (OH), and Mike Lee (UT) in various capacities. Sparking a fury online, media outlets showed pictures of the ex-wives’ injuries that Porter had allegedly caused. Though the response to the story was damning by most outlets (Fox News only mentioned the story on air in passing), the responses that came from Trump and his Chief of Staff were supportive. “Consistent with the practice of past administrations, issues related to an individual’s suitability are reviewed through a thorough and lengthy background check process… The president and chief of staff have full confidence in his abilities and his performance,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders read in her initial statement.
Willoughby also explained her full feelings regarding Porter’s politics and his personality in her interview with the Daily Mail. “I don’t want to be married to him,” said Willoughby “I would not recommend anyone to date him or marry him. But, I definitely want him in the White House and the position he is in. I think his integrity and ability to do his job is impeccable.”
Earlier this year, Finance Chairman for the Republican National Committee Steve Wynn stepped down when The Wall Street Journal released interviews with several women who allege that Wynn sexually harassed or abused them. This news comes after Wynn paid a manicurist a $7.5 million settlement in 2005 over sexual coercion. Not long after, Wynn’s business had him step down as CEO. Porter’s resignation comes at an awkward time for the Republican Party, thanks to a hesitancy within the party to believe women when they come forward with sexual misconduct or assault allegations. It is hard to construe this hesitancy into anything other than an acceptance of their worst characters (Roy Moore and Donald Trump are two). This damning trend is worsened by the unwillingness of mainstream Republicans to accept blame in their political friends, or to retract statements of support. When allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke, the RNC demanded the Democratic National Committee return the $300,000 donated. Predictably, in spectacular hypocrisy, the RNC recently announced after some hesitancy they would not be looking to return money donated by Steve Wynn. Regarding the President, the trend has been disturbingly consistent, no matter the number of accusers or the severity of the accusations. Jesse Lehrich posted a summary of these comments on twitter: “Trump on: – Porter: ‘Hope he has a wonderful career… says he’s innocent’ – Lewandowski: ‘How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?’ – Roy Moore: ‘He totally denies it’ – Roger Ailes: ‘He helped those women’ – Bill O’Reilly: ‘I don’t think Bill did anything wrong’”. Even in cases such as Ailes’ where the culture he fostered at Fox News was well documented and highly perverse, our president chooses to lie to protect his friends.