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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

February 22, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Domestic abuse allegations in the White House

David Sorensen, a member of President Donald Trump’s speechwriting team, resigned from his position Feb. 9 due to allegations of domestic abuse brought to light by two Washington Post reporters. Sorensen is the second White House official to resign from his position due to domestic abuse allegations.

Jessica Corbett, Sorensen’s ex-wife, told reporters at The Washington Post that during her two and a half year marriage to Sorensen, “he ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast, an incident she said left her fearing for her life.

Sorensen denied the allegations in a statement released to CNN on Feb. 9, saying that Corbett was violent with him.

In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her,” Sorensen said. He also told CNN that he was considering legal action against Corbett for defamation.

Sorensen told The Washington Post that he resigned from his position because he “didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction.

Rob Porter, the nowformer White House staff secretary for the Trump administration, resigned on Feb. 7 after his two ex-wives came forward with domestic abuse allegations. His first wife, Colbie Holderness, has detailed multiple instances of violence from Porter, while his second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, filed an emergency protective order against him in 2010.

The Washington Post reported that White House Counsel Don McGahn has known about allegations made against Porter since January 2017 and that John Kelly, White House chief of staff, has known since this past fall. Neither of them seem to have taken any action against Porter, though The New York Times reported that Kelly has said he’s willing to resign from his position for the way he handled the situation.

Trump has publicly defended Porter since the allegations came to light.

“He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said to reporters at the White House. “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent.”

This is not the first time that Trump has publicly refuted claims of abuse — he has also defended Roy Moore and Bill O’Reilly, who have both been accused of sexual harassment. Trump said on Feb. 10 on Twitter that false allegations have the power to ruin lives.

“There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone,” Trump said. “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Meaghan McElroy can be reached at mmcelroy@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @meaghan_mcelroy