This was an act of true compassion and grace, so kudos to Senator Orrin Hatch.
Before a horrific school shooting in Florida drew the headlines away, the big news last week was about domestic abuse.
Specifically, it was about White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Reports that he was unable to receive full security clearance, due to domestic violence issues with 2 former wives (and at least 2 ex-girlfriend) demanded headlining attention.
How long did the White House know that a violent sociopath was in their midst, given close access to the president?
The reports that emerged were that the FBI did the background checks, then informed White House counsel, Don McGahn and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at least by last Fall.
They knew, and they allowed him to continue on, without proper security clearance.
Also, when they became aware of a coming article in the British tabloid, the Daily Mail, the White House (at the direction of communications director and Porter’s current squeeze, Hope Hicks) tamped down the story, by issuing a statement that was supportive of Porter.
Well, then there were those photos of the first wife, with her swollen, bruised face and testimony that Porter was responsible.
The stories of both wives are horrible.
Colbie Holderness, wife number 1, was beaten on their honeymoon.
Wife number 2, Jennifer Willoughby was forced to take out an order of protection against Porter.
A third woman reached out to both of them, frightened, and also with a story to tell of abuse at Porter’s hands.
That the White House attempted to cover for this man is awful enough. That they knew before they allowed his current girlfriend to craft the narrative to the press, further covering for him makes it worse.
For as bad as all that is, however, you can press it down and fill it to the top with what they did to Senator Hatch.
Porter served for a time as Hatch’s chief of staff. While seeking glowing reviews of the man’s service to use as a shield from the bad press, they asked Hatch to put out a statement, as well, except they didn’t tell him the important details.
Hatch originally said that Porter, who is a former aide of his, is “kind and considerate towards all,” and criticized the allegations as rumors being spread by political “character assassins.”
The retiring senator also said of Porter that he would “prefer him not to resign.”
Yeah. That’s all they told him, even though they knew what was coming. They told Hatch political enemies were out to smear Porter, then ran with that.
Only after the photos of Holderness and the stories of the three women was made public did Hatch realize he’d been used.
Hatch then did what the White House was unwilling to do. He made a statement firmly against domestic violence.
Hatch released a statement saying that was “heartbroken” by the allegations and said “domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable.”
“I am praying for Rob and those involved,” Hatch said at the time.
And it’s ok to pray for the abuser. As much as those he has abused, someone who abuses is in need of prayer and a powerful move of God in their lives.
Hatch went even further, however.
Hatch took the time to send letters of apology to the former wives of Porter, because of his earlier statements, that seemed to give Porter a pass.
Willoughby, one of Porter’s ex-wives, told The Washington Post that the one-and-a-half-page apology letter is printed on Senate letterhead and includes a handwritten “prayer for good wishes and blessings.”
She said that Hatch’s office has explained that the senator’s initial reaction was “based on how the situation was described to him,” and that the apology letter echoes these past explanations.
“I feel like it’s a sincere apology and having been in D.C. for upwards of 12-13 years, I feel like this is sufficient given what I know to be true,” she said.
No, he didn’t rail about the lives being ruined by “mere allegations.”
He just apologized. He humbled himself and reached out.
For whatever you think of Hatch’s politics over the years, this was a classy move. It’s exactly how it should have been handled.
Good for Senator Hatch.