The second White House staffer in three days has resigned due to allegations of domestic abuse.
David Sorensen, a speechwriter who reported to senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, resigned abruptly Friday afternoon, The Washington Post reports. The Post was in the process of looking into domestic violence claims by his former wife, Jessica Corbett.
His resignation comes two days after the departure of Rob Porter, who left amid accusations from two ex-wives that he had abused them. Porter had been staff secretary to Donald Trump.
Corbett told the Post that Sorensen committed several violent and threatening actions during their marriage, such as running a car over her foot, tamping out a cigarette on her hand, throwing her against a wall, and grabbing her “menacingly” by the hair “while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast.” The last incident made her feel her life was in danger, she told the paper.
She said she shared the information with the FBI last fall while it was conducting a background check on Sorensen, who had once been an adviser to Maine Gov. Paul LePage. White House officials told the Post they learned of Corbett’s accusations only last night.
“We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today,” White House spokesman Raj Shah told the paper Friday evening, Sorensen sent the Post a text message saying he “didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction.”
Sorensen also claimed that his wife was the abuser. He said she hit him several times, causing bruises and scrapes. She responded to the Post that she had never done anything more than slap him and that her allegations of violence by him were “100 percent true.” Corbett, who worked in various Republican candidates’ campaigns, was Sorensen’s second wife; their divorce became final last September. His first wife, Mauranda Stahl, told the Post that Sorensen was never violent toward her, and she said she found Corbett’s allegations hard to believe.
Corbett’s friend John Bremer, however, said she had called him several times with stories of abuse. “These were very vivid and intense calls I would get,” he told the Post. “It’s not something you can fake or come up with.”
The FBI did not respond to the Post’s request for comment on the allegations against Sorensen. The bureau had reportedly known about the accusations against Porter for several months, “raising questions about why he was allowed to remain in his post,” according to the paper.
Before the news about Sorensen broke, Trump made his first public statement on Porter. The president “did not express any sympathy for the women Porter allegedly abused — instead pointing to Porter’s claim that ‘he’s innocent,’” CNN reports.
Porter “did a very good job while he was in the White House,” Trump said, according to CNN, adding, “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”
Shah said Thursday that the White House staff “could have done better” in reacting to the accusations against Porter, but Trump was “privately miffed” about even that small concession, CNN reports.
Then in a tweet Saturday morning, Trump again showed more concern for the accused than the accuser.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Several others who have been in Trump's inner circle had been accused of domestic violence. Steve Bannon, who ran Trump's presidential campaign and was a White House adviser for a time, was accused of physically attacking his former wife, although charges were dropped when she failed to appear in court. And Andrew Puzder, the fast-food executive who was Trump's first choice for secretary of Labor, had to withdraw from consideration because of abuse allegations by his first wife.