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White House of Cards

The White House is scrambling to contain the fallout from Rob Porter's downfall

By Wednesday night, White House staff secretary Rob Porter's wall of support had crumbled. And Porter, who resigned Wednesday but still denies allegations from his two ex-wives that he was physically abusive, is now expected to be out of the White House by Friday. Porter was a rising star in the West Wing, a key gatekeeper for President Trump, a trusted ally of Chief of Staff John Kelly, and, according to several reports, dating White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who helped craft the White House's initial defense of Porter when the allegations of his abuse were reported Tuesday by Britain's Daily Mail.

The White House fought Wednesday to contain the fallout from its initial push to shield Porter, and Kelly issued a new statement saying he was "shocked by the new allegations." Outside, questions swirled about who knew what, when. The two ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, said they detailed Porter's abuse to the FBI during background checks last spring, and by the fall it was reportedly widely known in the West Wing that Porter's lack of security clearance was due in part to the charges from his ex-wives.

A senior administration official told The Washington Post that "Porter's most recent ex-girlfriend, who also works in the administration, reached out to the White House last year to express her concerns about him after she discovered his relationship with Hicks" and "told the White House counsel's office about allegations from his ex-wives." Trump was upset when he learned of the allegations this week, two sources tell CNN. Kelly, meanwhile, is now "in the midst of a bona fide crisis," and his "decision to go to bat for Porter deeply frustrated White House staffers" who are "increasingly questioning Kelly's judgment," four Republicans tell Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman.

Holderness tells The New York Times she "thought by sharing my story with the FBI he wouldn't be put in that post." But Willoughby had more nuanced thoughts on Porter's bifurcated professional-personal life. Watch below. Peter Weber