The ex-wife of ousted White House staff secretary Robert Porter described their marriage as "very strongly verbally and emotionally abusive" but denied Friday that she is part of a coordinated smear campaign against her ex-husband.
Jennifer Willoughby, speaking to the Today show's Savannah Guthrie, said she hopes the blow to Porter's career and reputation will turn him around. She said it has been "cathartic" to discuss the emotional toll of her four-year marriage to Porter, for which she had largely blamed herself.
She said there were "a lot of attacks on my character and my intelligence. Things that I felt to be true about myself were systematically and repeatedly attacked.”
She recalled an incident in which Porter allegedly followed her to the bathroom during a prolonged fight, grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her out of the shower "to continue the rage."
In a second incident, she said, Porter punched a hole in the front door, prompting her to call police and get a temporary restraining order.
Porter, 40, who coordinated the flow of documents to President Trump in the Oval Office, had been under fire since Willoughby and Colbie Holderness, another of Porter's ex-wives, publicly shared their stories of domestic abuse.
They described the marriages to the FBI last year as part of a background check for his job.
A photo showed Holderness with a black eye, allegedly after an incident with Porter.
In his resignation statement, Porter said, "These outrageous allegations are simply false."
Porter acknowledged taking 15-year-old photos of Holderness with a black eye, but "the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described." He did not elaborate.
Porter operated with an interim security clearance at the time of his resignation Wednesday. According to White House deputy spokesman Raj Shah, the investigation into his background had not been completed, although he had been in the job for more than a year.
In her interview with Today, Willoughby rejected Porter's claim that her public statements about him were part of a "smear campaign."
“There was no coordination of this," she said. "This is unexpected that I would have to be speaking about this and mentioning his name, and describing the details of my marriage is nothing that I wanted, and I have only recently been in contact with Colbie (Holderness) to discuss it at all.”
Willoughby said she, like Holderness, met with the FBI before her husband took the job last year and told them all the things that she has since discussed publicly.
Willoughby said Porter called her before the FBI interview last year to find out what she planned to tell them. "I told him I’m going to tell them the truth,” she said.
She told Today that she was especially shaken by the front-door punching incident that prompted her to take out the temporary restraining order.
"The police officers sort of pointed out that if he is able to do that, even though I didn’t expect it, I really didn’t know what else he was capable of,” she said.
Willoughby said she hopes that "in the wake of losing his reputation and career and the things he values most that he will be able to go inside and find the things that actually do matter most about him."
She emphasized that she had not wanted Porter to lose his job over the scandal.
"I liked that he was in that administration, but this is a consequence of his actions," Willoughby said.