01:50 - Source: CNN
Pence on Porter: WH could've handled better
Washington CNN —  

A scandal that engulfed the White House last year has drawn renewed attention after a former top aide to President Donald Trump penned an op-ed on trade and his ex-wife penned an opinion piece of her own taking issue with him being given a platform despite never having apologized for allegedly physically and verbally abusing her.

Rob Porter resigned last year from his role as White House staff secretary after two of his ex-wives accused him of years of consistent abuse, which he denied.

After largely remaining out of the public arena since then, Porter wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last week about Trump’s international trade policy, prompting his ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, to write in The Washington Post that his “sudden return to the public eye is deeply troubling to me.”

“I can’t speak for any therapy or counseling, or remorse or repentance that Rob has done privately, but in order to be able to step back into public service, there has to be some sort of public acknowledgment that what you did was wrong and you would like to have another space, another shot. And I think that’s the piece that’s missing for me,” Willoughby told CNN’s Erica Hill on “New Day” Friday.

Willoughby, who feels that there should be a road to redemption, said that she had been in fairly regular contact with Porter until about a month ago regarding a path back to the public stage.

She told CNN that she’s willing to help Porter in the process, “but the contingency was and is – I need to know that you are doing the work and we need to see it.”

“He hasn’t been willing so far. I think he’s doing work privately and likes to keep that very private. In my opinion, in order for it to translate, in order for me to feel at peace with the work that he’s doing, I want it to be acknowledged openly,” she said.

CNN has reached out to Porter.

“Rob’s sudden return to the public eye is deeply troubling to me, because he has yet to candidly address the thing that should — that must — come first: his personal conduct during his two marriages,” Willoughby wrote in the Post op-ed Thursday.

“Rob has yet to publicly show regret or contrition for his actions,” she added.

Willoughby said that giving Porter a voice before “he’s done that critical work elevates his opinions” above the dignity of her and Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, who also accused him of physical abuse, including punching her in the face and repeatedly choking her.

Willoughby said she doesn’t have an “agenda for my ex-husband’s future career” and feels that Porter shouldn’t be “forever barred from using his considerable professional skills and knowledge to make a contribution to our society.”

“My goal is to help anyone in an abusive situation, and this includes helping perpetrators of abuse do what they can to seek help for themselves,” Willoughby wrote. “Seeing someone walk a path of growth and recovery could open a national narrative on what healing looks like — on both sides of an abusive relationship. After that, there will be time for op-eds on trade policy.”

The Wall Street Journal declined to comment to CNN.

Willoughby told CNN last year that Porter emotionally abused her throughout their nearly five years of marriage and took out a temporary protective order against him.

When he resigned from the White House, Porter issued a statement denying the allegations from Willoughby and Holderness.

“These outrageous allegations are simply false,” he said then in his statement. “I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.