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Abuse allegations lead to White House aide's resignation

The White House's staffing volatility really is "off the charts."
The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty)
The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. 

The revolving door for the staff at Donald Trump's White House is spinning again, with another top aide announcing his resignation. The circumstances surrounding today's departure, however, are more awful than most.

White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned Wednesday, a day after a British newspaper reported allegations from two ex-wives of physical and verbal abuse, the White House said. [...]Porter's two ex-wives, Jennifer Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, told in a report published Tuesday that Porter was physically and verbally abusive to them during their marriages. Willoughby said the abuse started on their honeymoon and that she filed a restraining order against Porter in June 2010 after he punched the glass on a door to their home and refused to leave, violating a separation agreement. NBC News has reached out to the women, but has not yet spoken with them, nor investigated their stories.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the staff secretary's departure, telling reporters this was "a personal decision Rob made."

Porter continues to deny any wrongdoing, saying in a statement the allegations are "outrageous" and "simply false."

As NBC News' report added, Porter was an influential senior aide who, among other things, "played a key role in writing the president's State of the Union address last month."

There are still some questions surrounding White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's role in the story, with Politico  reporting that a senior administration official said Kelly "was previously aware" of a 2010 protective order against Porter, which prevented the staff secretary from getting a full security clearance.

Axios added, meanwhile, that Kelly also reportedly urged Porter to remain at his White House post, despite the abuse allegations.

And on that note, this seems like a good time to update the list of prominent Trump World departures:

Cabinet: HHS Secretary Tom Price

West Wing: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn, Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis, Office of Public Liaison Communications Director Omarosa Manigault, Staff Secretary Rob Porter, Deputy Assistant to the President Sean Cairncross, Chief Usher Angella Reid

White House Communications: Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short, Communications Director #1 Mike Dubke, Communications Director #2 Anthony Scaramucci, Rapid Response Director Andy Hemming

National Security team: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, Advisor to the National Security Council Monica Crowley, Director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Deputy Chief of Staff at the National Security Council Tera Dahl, Director Of Strategic Planning at the National Security Council Rich Higgins, NSC Middle East Advisor Derek Harvey

The self-identified "nationalist" wing: Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, National Security Aide Sebastian Gorka

Justice Department: Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, dozens of U.S. Attorneys

Office of the Vice President: Chief of Staff Josh Pitcock, Press Secretary Marc Lotter, Chief Counsel Mark Paoletta, Domestic Policy Director Daris Meeks

A cavalcade of others that includes CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, National Economic Council Deputy Director Jeremy Katz, Domestic Policy Council Deputy Director Paul Winfree; Director of Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub, Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Director William Bradford, Department of Homeland Security Faith-Based Director Jamie Johnson, Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs Carl Higbie, Office of Drug Control Policy Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Weyeneth, Trump legal team spokesperson Mark Corallo, EPA Office of Science and Technology Director Elizabeth Southerland, State Department Counselor Maliz Beams, State Department Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, and Carl Icahn, who served as a special adviser to the president on regulatory reform.

As we discussed a while back, this does not include a variety of people the president nominated for prominent administrative posts – including some cabinet positions – who ultimately withdrew in the face of assorted controversies.

The New Yorker published an interesting piece along these lines recently, quoting the Brookings Institution's Kathryn Dunn Tenpas describing the staff churn in this White House as "off the charts." It's only gotten worse since she said that.