Jennifer Willoughby, an ex-wife of former White House aide Rob Porter who has come forward with allegations of domestic abuse, said Thursday that Porter asked her this week to “downplay” her accusations.
During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday evening, Willoughby discussed a blog that she posted a year ago that detailed the alleged abuse she experienced in her previous marriage, without naming Porter. She said she had been in contact with Porter “a lot” in the past two weeks and that he had sent her “some warnings that stories might break” and that people might start “sniffing around my blog post.”
“I had (written it) with the intention of reaching people who may need to hear that message and see what it’s like on the other side, to have that hope and Rob was aware of that post when it originally went out a year ago, a little less than a year ago, and asked me to take it down two weeks ago,” she told CNN. “I think in anticipation of me being questioned about it.”
She said Porter never asked her deny the allegations in her blog post, but said that he asked her on Tuesday to release a statement about the blog. The two spoke on the phone for about an hour about the language of a statement, but ultimately, she said, she decided to not release one.
“I don’t remember the exact wording, but something along the lines that the post does not accurately depict my marriage,” she said when asked what Porter wanted her to say in the statement.
“He wanted me to say I had taken some liberties with the therapeutic post,” she continued. “And when I thought about it, I didn’t. The things I said were factual statements … He was asking me to downplay it and he was asking me to emphasize more the relationship that he and I have now, as opposed to what I experienced in our marriage.”
She told Cooper that she doesn’t think Porter has changed and said she was “worried” about White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who is reportedly now in a relationship with Porter.
“I mean it definitely worries me because if I’m being frank with you, if he hasn’t already been abusive with Hope, he will. Particularly now that he’s under a lot of stress and scrutiny. That’s when the behaviors come out and if he hasn’t already, he will,” she said.
Willoughby is just one of Porter’s ex-wives who has come forward with allegations of domestic abuse this past week, which was first reported by the Daily Mail. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness said the abuse started almost immediately after their wedding. She released photos of a black eye she said sustained when Porter allegedly punched her.
Porter has denied the allegations and called it a “smear campaign,” but resigned from his post at the White House on Wednesday. White House officials are under fire amid reports that Chief of Staff John Kelly was aware of the allegations of abuse after Porter’s background check clearance was held up over the accusations.