New information emerges in "Maria" Trump story


By Wayne Madsen and Andrew Kreig

New information has emerged in the joint Wayne Madsen Report/Justice Integrity Project investigation of the "Maria" case. Maria was temporarily held for ransom in 1993, according to witnesses speaking to police..

As we previously reported, Katie Johnson alleged in federal law suits that Donald Trump and his friend, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, raped her when she was 13 and a 12-year old — only identified as "Maria" — in New York City in 1994. Our investigation discovered that Maria had been abducted from Waterbury, Connecticut in March 1993 when she was 11.

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaEventually, Maria ended up at "parties" at a midtown Manhattan townhouse owned by Epstein's billionaire friend Les Wexner where underage girls were allegedly sexually assaulted by Trump and Epstein.

We previously reported (including via the graphic at right showing the mansion and file photos of Trump and Epstein) that Maria's kidnappers were involved in a child trafficking ring that provided abductees to wealthy individuals like Trump and Epstein. Lawyers for Trump and Epstein have sought to deny or otherwise downplay the claims.

Our new information is that Maria was reported missing by her late mother to the Waterbury Police on March 20, 1993, at 11:30 pm. However, Maria was actually abducted the previous day, March 19, authorities said, creating a gap betweenthe kidnap and the mother's report of it to authorities.

Update: The New Yorker, Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity, Ronan Farrow, Feb. 16, 2018. One woman’s account of clandestine meetings, financial transactions, and legal pacts designed to hide an extramarital affair.

Maria was last seen on March 19 by a young girl in the predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood. The girl said she saw Maria talking to a man who turned out to be a Colombian national known by the nickname of "Papito," which means "little daddy" in English. Later, the man claimed that he once lived in Maria's neighborhood but he was not in Waterbury at the time of the alleged conversation with Maria but was in New York "with his family."

The Waterbury Police Department missing person report states that Maria was last seen outside of Nash's Pizza, a corner eatery located in the neighborhood where she lived with her mother and step-father.

Waterbury Background

waterbury ct from west w uploaded by daniel caseWaterbury is shown in a photo via Wikimedia

We previously reported on the case of Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano, an aspiring national Republican leader who ran in 2000 for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Joseph Lieberman, who was concurrently running for vice president.

Giordano also had GOP vice presidential ambitions. Giordan is shown below at the far right in a 2000 photo with Connecticut Gov. John Rowland (center), who was another Waterbury Republican and future convict (on corruption charges).

Giordano was arrested in 2001 and charged with the repeated sexual assault of two female minors, ages 8 and 10. Some of the assaults took place in the mayor's office, others occurred in his official car.

philip giordano john rowland burning tree country 2000

Through a local prostitute with a drug habit, Giordano would arrange trysts with the hooker's daughter and niece on days when the mayor knew they were not in school.

Maria also experienced high absenteeism from her Chase Elementary School in Waterbury: 49 days in 1992 and 20 days in 1993, up until her abduction in March of that year. At the time of Maria's abduction, Giordano (shown below right in his mugshot) was a state representative.

As is the case today, Waterbury in 1993 had a major problem with drugs, particularly in the Puerto Rican community.

The investigation of Maria's abduction was by members of the Waterbury Police Narcotics Unit. We have discovered that detectives with both the Youth Division and Narcotics Unit were interested reports that cash loans for the purchase of drugs involved adult individuals in Maria's circle of relatives and family friends.

philip giordano mugshot 2Furthermore, there were reports of a ransom demand that was apparently made by Maria's kidnappers with two separate figures mentioned: $1,960 and $2,000. The ransom information was passed to police by the vice-principal of Wallace Middle School in Waterbury. The vice-principal obtained the information from students at the school who knew Maria's family.

Officially, the case of Maria has seen no new leads.

However, Katie Johnson's lawsuits against Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein, which mentioned Maria as an alleged underage rape victim of both men, have lit a raging fire under what has been a very cold case.

matt gaetz mug Custommatt gaetz o CustomAs one curiosity, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was the lone "no" vote in the U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 19, 2017 on an anti-human trafficking bill that had unanimously passed the Senate in September 2017.

Gaetz is pictured at left in a 2008 Driving Under the Influence arrest mugshot. He is shown at right in his official photo as member of Congress representing the Walton Beach region in his state's far west Panhandle,

robert mueller olderGaetz has emerged as the chief congressional critic of Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller (shown at right), who has been alerted to the Katie Johnson-Maria story by anti-trafficking activists. 

To reward Gaetz, Trump has invited the first-term congressman to accompany him on Air Force One to Florida this coming weekend.


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Wayne Madsen Report /Justice Integrity Project Coverage

wayne madsen may 29 2015 croppedInvestigative reporter Wayne Madsen (shown at left) is a widely published journalist and author. He edits the Wayne Madsen Report, appears frequently as a broadcast commentator, and has published 15 books. Previously, he worked 14 years as a Navy Intelligence officer, including a year as an NSA analyst. He later worked as chief scientist with a major defense Dennis Hastert contractor and as a privacy expert at a think tank. When Madsen was in the Navy, the FBI named him to be a temporary special FBI agent to help follow up his tip that his commanding officer, later imprisoned, was sexually assaulting underage victims.

In 2006, he published a three-part series on the WMR website revealing for the first time that then-U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, shown at right, was a gay pedophile who had assaulted students as a high school wrestling coach before being forced out and campaigning in Illinois as a Republican advocate of family values. A decade later, Hastert, the longest-serving GOP speaker in U.S. history, was federally indicted and then imprisoned on federal charges arising from cover-up money that he was paying to hide those assaults. Madsen has written many such reports on the WMR site naming names to document how powerful entities use pedophilia and other hidden sex scandals to install, blackmail or otherwise influence high-ranking government officials. Selected columns follow in reverse chronological order:

The Wayne Madsen Report (WMR)  (and concurrently at Justice Integrity Project), New information emerges in "Maria" story, Wayne Madsen and Andrew Kreig, Feb. 15, 2018. New information has emerged in the joint WMR/Justice Integrity Project investigation of the "Maria" case. As we previously reported, Katie Johnson alleged in federal law suits that Donald Trump and his friend, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, raped her, when she was 13, and a 12-year old girl — only identified as "Maria" — in New York in 1994. Our investigation discovered that Maria, 11 years of age at the time, was abducted from Waterbury, Connecticut in March 1993.

stormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomJustice Integrity Project (and concurrently at the Wayne Madsen Report), Trump’s multiple sex scandals endanger U.S. national security, Andrew Kreig and Wayne Madsen, Jan. 24, 2018. Recent claims that Donald Trump paid hush money before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels (shown on the cover of In Touch Magazine) to cover up a 2006 affair underscore far more sinister events.

Such a payoff would show not simply Trump’s low morals and high arrogance — but also his propensity for outright crime in ways potentially damaging to the United States and many of its residents.

maria wmr jip waterbury graphic 1 8 18 Custom

Justice Integrity Project (and currently at the Wayne Madsen Report, Welcome To Waterbury: The City That Holds Secrets That Could Bring Down Trump, Wayne Madsen and Andrew Kreig, Jan. 9, 2018.  A woman whom Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein allegedly sodomized and raped at the age of 12 along with at least one other underage girl at a midtown Manhattan townhouse in 1994 is alive and trying to maintain obscurity from alt-right operatives who have identified her and her current residence.


Recent #MeToo Reports Of Rape, Other Sex-Related Violence, Harassment and Blackmail

Shown below and available at this link on the Justice Integrity Project site is a catalog of recent news stories for the past week reporting on notable allegations of harassment, domestic violence or sexual assault and/or sex-related blackmail and extortion. The reports are listed in reverse chronological order, and are drawn primarily from U.S.-based claims of scandal within high-level government and business circles, including the media and entertainment.

The Justice Integrity Project has initiated this project in part because of the prevalence of such problems and their harms. Aside from harms to direct victims, the scandals (particularly in the case of government officials) can create extra measures of oppression by victims as well as blackmail and extortion secretly affecting a full range of government actions aftecting even those in the public ignorant of the specific misconduct.

The list below encompasses news stories and commentary from the past week. A continuously updated list is on our #MeToo website., which invites submissions to stay current and social media links to inform wider audiences.



March 7

djt melania liberty ball inauguration 2017Pornographic actress Stormy Daniels alleges she had an affair with President Donald Trump during the months after first lady Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron Trump. The Trumps are shown in a White House photo during the Inaugural in 2017.

Roll Call, Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Raises Election Law Questions for Trump, Griffin Connolly, March 7, 2018. Democratic lawmakers have asked FBI to investigate payments from president’s lawyer to porn actress. As Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller continues to probe members of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for possible collusion with Russia, some lawmakers have raised ethical concerns over the president’s alleged preemptive coverup of an affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Reps. Kathleen Rice of New York and Ted Lieu of California, both former prosecutors, have asked the FBI to investigate payments from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Daniels, who filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the president in Los Angeles Superior Court. NBC News first reported the lawsuit.

Lieu and Rice believe the alleged “hush” agreement — which involved a $130,000 payment from Cohen to Daniels — violates federal election laws. “[The] hush agreement & side letter attached to Stormy Daniels’ filing essentially shows coordination between @realDonaldTrump, Cohen & Daniels,” Lieu tweeted Tuesday night. “That means the $130k payment from Cohen to Daniels to silence her during the campaign violated federal election law.” The penalty, he added, is a five-year felony sentencing.

In the lawsuit complaint filed Tuesday, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, states that her nondisclosure agreement regarding her alleged 2006 affair with Trump is invalid because Trump never actually signed the document — only Cohen and Daniels did. According to the lawsuit, Daniels’ affair with Trump lasted “well into 2007.”

The suit alleges that Cohen has tried to intimidate Daniels into silence on the matter as recently as Feb. 27. “To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up’ in order to ‘protect Mr. Trump’ continue unabated,” the suit claims. “On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump’s attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles.” The suit also alleges Trump must be aware of Cohen’s attempts to silence Daniels since New York bar rules require Cohen to keep his client informed at all times.

The president has not publicly commented on the alleged affair, which is said to have occurred in the months after his third wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son Barron. White House spokesman Raj Shah told members of the press he had never asked the president about the alleged relationship, NBC reported. Cohen has acknowledged the payment, but has not publicly said what the payment was for. He has also said he paid out of his own pocket and was never reimbursed.

djt stormy daniels screengrab

President Trump and porn star Stormy Daniels (separate screengrab file photos)

washington post logoWashington Post, Porn actress Stormy Daniels sues Trump, says hush agreement is null because he didn’t sign it, Beth Reinhard, Frances Stead Sellers and Emma Brown​, March 7, 2018 (print edition). The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles alleges that President Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, never approved a $130,000 settlement arranged by his personal attorney, making it invalid.

Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump, sued the president Tuesday, asking the court to declare that her nondisclosure agreement before the 2016 election is void because Trump did not sign it.

In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — said she had wanted to go public with the story of her alleged decade-old affair with Trump in the weeks leading up to the election. The lawsuit was first reported by NBC News.

Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Daniels’s attorney at the time, Keith Davidson, negotiated what the lawsuit calls a “hush agreement” in which she would be paid $130,000. After delays and even a cancellation of the contract by Daniels on Oct. 17, the payment arrived on Oct. 27, 12 days before the election, according to e-mails reviewed by The Washington Post. Cohen said recently that he had used his own money to “facilitate” the payment.

djt stormy daniels nydaily 1 13 18 Customwashington post logoWashington Post, David Dennison’ and other interesting details from Stormy Daniels’s lawsuit against Trump, Aaron Blake, March 7, 2018. The lawsuit filed by the porn star, who says she had an affair with President Trump, represents the latest development in an increasingly troubling situation for the White House. It also serves as confirmation of key details surrounding the alleged relationship [which has been creating news for nearly two months, as indicated by the New York Daily News front page from Jan. 13].

Exactly how likely Daniels's lawsuit is to succeed is a major question. If she does prevail, it could free her up to talk about the (alleged) affair. But if nothing else, the lawsuit itself serves as confirmation of key details. The full lawsuit is 28 pages and includes the alleged nondisclosure agreement. Below, I've isolated the key parts. (Note that the lawsuit refers to Daniels by her real name, Stephanie Clifford.)

"2. Defendant Donald J. Trump a.k.a. David Dennison ('Mr. Trump'), an individual, is a resident of the District of Columbia (among other places). ...Ms. Clifford began an intimate relationship with Mr. Trump in the Summer of 2006 in Lake Tahoe and continued her relationship with Mr. Trump well into the year 2007. This relationship included, among other things, at least one 'meeting' with Mr. Trump in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel located within Los Angeles County.”

In some ways, this lawsuit seems to be a way for Daniels to put her side of the story into the public record without directly telling it. Here, she confirms details about the alleged affair that she previously shared with InTouch magazine in a 2011 interview that wasn't published until recently.

This also confirms previously reported details. But it's the first time Daniels has confirmed that she was shopping her story before the election. She has publicly been coy about the whole thing, apparently because of the nondisclosure agreement.

"16. After discovering Ms. Clifford's plans, Mr. Trump, with the assistance of his attorney Mr. [Michael] Cohen, aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election. Mr. Cohen subsequently prepared a draft nondisclosure agreement and presented it to Ms. Clifford and her attorney (the 'Hush Agreement').”

Two points here: First, this is Daniels alleging that Trump was personally involved — something the White House and Cohen have declined to confirm or deny (despite the Journal's reporting). And second, she alleges that the effort was geared toward aiding Trump's election. That may seem like a given, because it happened just before Election Day, but as The Washington Post's Philip Bump has reported, the payment is more legally problematic if it was clearly for this purpose.

Whether Trump needed to sign this agreement is the major legal question here.

Legal Schnauzer, Analysis: Three Republicans deal with legal fallout of sex scandals in one 24-hour news cycle, giving new meaning to the term GOP (Gross Old Perverts), Roger Shuler, March 7, 2018. Republicans put on quite a display of their "family values" recently, according to an article at the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). In one 24-hour news cycle, three Republicans were hit with legal issues connected to sexual misconduct. And that did not include another GOPer's use of public funds to help pay for trysts with a prostitute -- in one of our most conservative states. That missed the list only because it came just before the infamous news cycle.

nicholas kettle oGee, imagine how bad it would be if conservatives weren't so virtuous. Madsen dubbed them the GOP (Gross Old Perverts), and the phrase seems to fit. From the article at WMR:

"Within a 24-hour news cycle, three top Republican officials in three states were mired in legal trouble stemming from sex scandals. One, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, was arrested. Rhode Island State Senator Nicholas Kettle (shown at right) resigned as he faced certain expulsion from the body. In Louisiana, Secretary of State Tom Schedler was accused of sexual harassment and stalking."

jon stanardAs for the Gross Old Pervert who fell outside the news cycle, that would be Utah Rep. Jon Stanard (shown at left), who resigned his position on Feb. 6. From a Salt Lake City Tribune article (Utah Rep. Jon Stanard, accused of meeting call girl for sex, used public money for hotel rooms) on Feb. 8:

"A British newspaper reported Thursday that Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, resigned abruptly Tuesday after he met a Salt Lake City call girl twice for sex, and it released racy texts that it says he sent to her."

March 6

eric greitens mike pence

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a first-term Republican, is shown meeting Vice President Mike Pence in a file photo

Legal Schnauzer, Already under indictment for felony charges related to a sex scandal, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens now faces questions about campaign-finance irregularities, Roger Shuler, March 6, 2018.  Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, already under felony indictment for invasion of privacy related to an extramarital affair, now faces allegations of possible campaign-finance violations. Federal law prohibits use of nonprofits in political campaigns, but it appears Greitens might have violated that ban.

On top of that, St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner has procured the services of Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan to assist with the Greitens prosecution, and former FBI agent Anthony Box has been hired as chief investigator.

eric greitens oReports in recent weeks indicate investigators are looking at more than just the Greitens sex scandal. A recent Associated Press report shows the probe extends to campaign-finance issues. From AP: Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (shown at right) used an email address for a veterans charity he founded to arrange political meetings as he prepared to launch his first bid for public office, despite a federal ban on nonprofits participating in political campaigns, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Greitens, who was on the board of directors of The Mission Continues at the time, sent meeting invitations from the charity's email address to three political consultants. He asked them to join him for a series of meetings over two days in January 2015 with more than a dozen state lawmakers, a lobbyist and an anti-abortion activist, according to copies of the emails obtained by the AP.

March 3

washington post logoWashington Post, Days before the election, Stormy Daniels threatened to cancel deal to keep alleged affair with Trump secret, Beth Reinhard, Frances Stead Sellers and Emma Brown, March 3, 2018 (print edition). The account of how the agreement came together — and how it briefly fell apart — adds a dimension of brinkmanship to the public understanding of the transaction.

washington post logohope hicks tux japan 2017 CustomWashington Post, ‘I don’t envy them’: Hope Hicks and other White House women struggle to defend Trump in the #MeToo era, David Nakamura, March 3, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s team of White House defenders is a nearly all-female lineup that to a degree has helped inoculate him by their gender from criticism amid the national conversation over the #MeToo movement.

While the public reckoning over sexual harassment and assault swiftly knocked out captains of industry, media stars, Hollywood moguls and politicians, Trump has survived. Now one of those defenders is leaving — communications director Hope Hicks, the loyal, mostly silent one (shown in a screenshot of a formal affair in Japan last year).

Among those left are his daughter Ivanka Trump, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Women in such those rightly or wrongly can defuse the criticism aimed at Trump, who has been accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct.

March 1

alex jones headshotNew York Daily News, Infowars’ Alex Jones accused of sexual harassment, racism and anti-Semitism: report, Jessica Chia, March 1, 2018,  Two former employees filed complaints against Infowars founder Alex Jones alleging he made racist and anti-Semitic comments, groomed them for sex and groped a female staffer.

Rob Jacobson, who worked as a video editor for Infowars for 13 years, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming Jones (shown above right) frequently singled out his Jewish background and referred to him as a “beefcake” over the course of four years, according to documents obtained by the Daily Mail.

Jacobson, who said the term referred to male porn stars, wrote, “I felt like this was intimidating and harassing and a form of sexual harassment in that he was grooming me for homosexual sex.”

nick micarelli wpvi screenshot Custom

Associated Press via Chron, House GOP leaders urge member accused of sex abuse to resign, Mark Scolforo, March 1, 2018. A state representative (shown above in a screenshot from TV) was urged Thursday by House Republican leaders to resign amid allegations he forced a woman to have sex after they broke up and threatened to kill another while driving at a high speed and brandishing a gun. The chamber's seven highest-ranking GOP leaders released a statement that said the claims should be properly investigated by police but Republican Rep. Nick Miccarelli of Delaware County should step down in the meantime.

"What we have in front of the House right now is about the integrity of the institution, the safety of its staff and members, and the best paths forward for the individuals involved — the accusers and accused, as well as their respective families," the statement read. "With that in mind, it would be in the best interest of all involved if Rep. Miccarelli would resign." In a Facebook post Wednesday evening, Miccarelli denied the allegations entirely, calling them "complete fabrications.

washington post logoWashington Post, In a prestigious high school math and science program, alumni say #MeToo, Donna St. George, March 1, 2018. Years after they left one of the nation’s premier high school programs in math and science, hundreds of alumni have come forward to support allegations that a celebrated Maryland teacher sexually harassed and demeaned female students. Many have described sexual comments, suggestive humor and sexist put-downs they said went unchecked for years as Eric Walstein became one of the pillars of a selective magnet program in a suburb outside Washington.

They accuse the nationally recognized teacher at Montgomery Blair High School of giving back rubs, leering at girls, calling them sexy, stroking their hands, and remarking on their bodies and sex lives — one account after another in what has become a #MeToo moment focused on experiences in high school.

ed murray wyomingWyoming Tribune Eagle, Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations, Joel Funk, March 1, 2018. Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned Friday following two separate allegations of prior sexual misconduct within two months. Murray made the unexpected announcement through a statement emailed to the media just before the close of business. He said no one asked him to resign.

“After deep and profound contemplation, I am announcing my resignation as secretary of state, effective today,” the statement said. “I step aside with peace and serenity in order that I may fully focus on what is most important in my life: my marriage, my family and my health.” In December, Tatiana Maxwell, a Colorado resident, made allegations on Facebook that Murray assaulted her more than 30 years ago when they worked together at a Cheyenne law firm.

A second accuser, Theresa Sullivan Twiford, the daughter of former Democratic Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan, said in a January statement to the Casper Star-Tribune that Murray forcibly kissed her in 1988. Twiford now lives in Virginia. Both women were 18 at the time the alleged incidents took place.

Murray forcefully denied the first allegation and said he could not recall the second alleged incident. It all follows speculation last fall about whether Murray would enter the race to become Wyoming’s next governor. Before the allegations, Murray told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle he was considering a run for governor, but planned to seek re-election as secretary of state should he not pursue higher office.


Feb. 23

wayne madsen new observerWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The GOP (Gross Old Perverts) hit with three sex scandals in 24-hour period, Wayne Madsen (shown at left), Feb. 23, 2018. Within a 24-hour news cycle, three top Republican officials in three states were mired in legal trouble stemming from sex scandals. One, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, was arrested.

Feb. 22

eric greitens mike pence

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a first-term Republican, is shown meeting Vice President Mike Pence in a file photo

washington post logo

Washington Post, Missouri governor indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge after blackmail allegation, Marwa Eltagouri, Feb. 22, 2018. Republican Eric Greitens was taken into custody on charges stemming from a 2015 affair. Greitens previously said he won’t resign, despite calls from numerous Republican and Democratic state lawmakers to do so.

eric greitens oMissouri Gov. Eric Greitens (shown at right) was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nude photo of a woman he had an extramarital affair with in 2015, according to city officials.

Greitens had allegedly threatened to blackmail the woman by saying he would distribute the photo of her if she exposed the relationship. The accusations stem from a secret recording by the woman’s ex-husband published by KMOV in St. Louis, in which the woman is heard describing how Greitens invited her to his home in 2015 and, with her consent, taped her hands to exercise rings, blindfolded her and took photos of her naked.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and First Lady Sheena Greitens at 2017 Inaugural Ball (Missouri National Guard Photo)St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner launched an investigation in January, after Greitens admitted he had been unfaithful to his wife before he was elected governor in 2016. His lawyer has denied the blackmail accusations.

Despite calls from numerous Republican and Democratic state lawmakers to resign, Greitens has said he has no plans to do so. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and First Lady Sheena Greitens at 2017 Inaugural Ball (Missouri National Guard Photo).

Washington Post, Missouri governor indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge after blackmail allegation, Marwa Eltagouri, Feb. 22, 2018. Republican Eric Greitens was taken into custody on charges stemming from a 2015 affair. Greitens previously said he won’t resign, despite calls from numerous Republican and Democratic state lawmakers to do so.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nude photo of a woman he had an extramarital affair with in 2015, according to city officials.

Greitens had allegedly threatened to blackmail the woman by saying he would distribute the photo of her if she exposed the relationship. The accusations stem from a secret recording by the woman’s ex-husband published by KMOV in St. Louis, in which the woman is heard describing how Greitens invited her to his home in 2015 and, with her consent, taped her hands to exercise rings, blindfolded her and took photos of her naked.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner launched an investigation in January, after Greitens admitted he had been unfaithful to his wife before he was elected governor in 2016. His lawyer has denied the blackmail accusations. Despite calls from numerous Republican and Democratic state lawmakers to resign, Greitens has said he has no plans to do so.

tom schedler o duties Custom 2

Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican in charge of the state's elections and accused of sexual harassment, is shown above

The Advocate (Baton Rouge New Orleans Acadiana), Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler says he had consensual sex in past with harassment accuser, Joe Gyan Jr., Feb. 22, 2018. Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler is accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed Thursday that claims he repeatedly propositioned an employee over a decade and retaliated against her after she rejected his advances.

The suit says Schedler would send the woman Valentine's Day cards addressed to "My Dearest Sunshine," roses, bottles of wine, clothing and sex tapes, despite her telling him she was not interested in a sexual relationship.

Through a spokeswoman, Schedler said he had a "consensual sexual relationship" with the woman in the past. Jill Craft, the woman's attorney, said that relationship did not happen.

Schedler kept watch over her home after buying a townhouse directly across from her and had her monitored by Secretary of State security personnel, the lawsuit alleges. Schedler obtained her boyfriend's license plate number and had it run, putting the printout on his desk for her to see, along with her boyfriend's business address, according to the suit.

"When she arrived at work, he inquired about why she was engaging in certain activities at her residence, such as planting, engaging in crafts, and painting, and why she had certain visitors at her residence, particularly male visitors," the suit states.

Schedler said in a written statement that his office takes any allegation of sexual harassment "very seriously."

"I have not seen the suit or the specific details but as the father of three grown daughters and three granddaughters I can assure the public that I believe in a safe workplace, free from harassment, and will continue my record of transparency with my constituents," he said.

Schedler added that he and his wife have been living apart for a long time, and that "our friends and family have known of our personal status and have lovingly supported our decision."

Craft said Schedler acknowledged in a communication with the woman that she sent him an email telling him to leave her alone.

"In spite of what he acknowledged as very clear directives from my client …, Mr. Schedler persisted and not only refused to take 'no' for an answer, but punished her for saying 'no,'" Craft said.

nicholas kettle oWPRI-TV 12 (Providence), Facing expulsion, Kettle resigns from Senate, Ted Nesi, Feb. 22, 2018. State Sen. Nicholas Kettle resigned his seat Thursday, forestalling an effort by Senate leaders to expel him from office following his indictment last week. Kettle, the former Republican minority whip, is shown in an official photo at right.

Kettle, R-Coventry, made the announcement in a letter to senators released by one of his attorneys, Priscilla Facha DiMaio, that also criticized Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Senate Republican Leader Dennis Algiere for moving to expel him. DiMaio formally delivered the letter to the State House at 2 p.m. DiMaio and Senate aides were seen clearing out Kettle’s office, and his name was scraped off the door by a custodian shortly thereafter.

See related story: Providence Journal, R.I. senator charged with 2 counts of extorting sex from former State House page, Patrick Anderson and Tom Mooney, Feb. 19, 2018. A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses state Sen. Nicholas Kettle, a 27-year-old Coventry Republican, of twice coercing a Senate student page to have sex with him in 2011, Kettle’s first year in the General Assembly. The indictment accused Kettle of threatening to injure the page or harm his reputation if he did not comply.

The alleged victim was a legislative page in 2011 and 2012, when he was 16 or 17 years old. Legislative pages range in age from 15 to college-age, and run errands for the lawmakers in the State House, including shuttling paperwork and bringing water.

nicholas kettle mug CustomKettle (GOP minority whip and shown in a mug shot) was arrested Friday afternoon at his job in Richmond on a charge of video voyeurism that state police say was a result of him sharing pornographic images of his now ex-girlfriend.

State police also seized more than a dozen mobile phones, computers and hard drives from Kettle’s home and office.Regarding the voyeurism charge, court documents allege that Kettle was exchanging naked pictures of his former girlfriend with a New Hampshire friend. His former girlfriend told investigators she thought the two had known each other for a long time and had initially met in the Boy Scouts. (Kettle is an Eagle Scout.)

The documents allege Kettle’s friend also exchanged with Kettle pictures of his wife. The men talked about swapping partners and videotaping sex acts. Kettle suggested his friend should have sex with him and his girlfriend, the documents allege. The documents also allege that Kettle and his friend exchanged pictures of their genitalia.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Charter Schools Co-Founder Is Fired Over Abuse Claims, Anemona Hartocollis, Feb. 22, 2018. Michael Feinberg was accused of sexually abusing a female student in the late 1990s. An investigation found the claim credible, though he has denied it.

KIPP, one of the country’s largest and most successful charter school chains, dismissed its co-founder on Thursday after an investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student some two decades ago, according to a letter sent to the school community.

The co-founder, Michael Feinberg, was accused last spring of sexually abusing a minor female student in Houston in the late 1990s, according to someone with close knowledge of the case who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. An outside investigation found her claim credible after interviewing the student and her mother, who both gave the same sequence of events.

Mr. Feinberg denies the accusation, his lawyer, Christopher L. Tritico, said.

Investigators also uncovered evidence that Mr. Feinberg had sexually harassed two KIPP employees. One case, in 2004, led to a financial settlement, the letter said; the other could not be corroborated because the woman involved would not cooperate, but the letter found it to be credible.

Feb. 20

clarence thomas w new officialABA [American Bar Association] Journal, Woman denies harassment by Justice Thomas amid new #MeToo reporting; he decries victim culture, Debra Cassens Weiss, Feb. 20, 2018. The spotlight is once again on allegations of sexual harassment by Justice Clarence Thomas (shown in an official photo) before he joined the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York magazine has a report on the women who were not called to testify against Thomas during his confirmation hearings, while one of those women calls for Thomas’ impeachment in an opinion piece for the Huffington Post. The National Law Journal summarizes the Feb. 18 New York magazine report and calls attention to another woman who alleged in 2016 that Thomas groped her at a dinner party in 1999.

New York magazine also tells of reported allegations by a then-reporter at the Bureau of National Affairs to a friend that Thomas had made sexual comments to her. New York magazine said that the now-retired reporter, Nancy Montwieler, didn’t deny the allegations prior to the story’s publication. But she did after the fact in emails to both New York magazine and the National Law Journal.

“I knew Clarence Thomas in a professional capacity and never experienced any type of inappropriate behavior from him,” she wrote in an email to the National Law Journal. “Moreover, despite allegations in the article, I do not recall any conversations with Justice Thomas regarding inappropriate or nonprofessional subjects.”

Thomas, through a spokesperson, declined to comment to New York magazine and the National Law Journal; and a Supreme Court spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the National Law Journal.

anita hillThe most famous allegations against Thomas were made during the confirmation hearings by Anita Hill (shown in a file photo), who said Thomas had made sexual comments to her when she worked with him at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied the allegations and complained that the confirmation hearing was “a high-tech lynching.”

The Huffington Post article is by Angela Wright-Shannon, described by New York magazine as an accuser who would have been the most devastating witness against Thomas. Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden told Teen Vogue in December that he regrets not being able to “tone down the attacks” on Hill, and said he wasn’t able to persuade three women to testify against Thomas after they changed their minds about appearing at the last minute.

New York magazine reports that the women wanted to testify, or would have testified if subpoenaed.

In the Huffington Post article, Wright-Shannon says that, after learning she was willing to testify, some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee went on the attack, characterizing her as “as a revengeful, foul-mouthed incompetent seizing an opportunity to strike back at the boss who had fired her.” Wright-Shannon had worked as director of public affairs at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before becoming a metro editor at the Charlotte Observer, and she noted that Thomas had provided a recommendation for her for that newspaper job.

“It’s highly unlikely that Thomas will be impeached, but we can hope,” Wright-Shannon wrote. The New York magazine article also asserted that it’s time to consider impeachment.

“Not because he watched porn on his own time, of course,” says the article written by Jill Abramson, who wrote a book on the Thomas confirmation hearings. “Not because he talked about it with a female colleague—although our understanding of the real workplace harm that kind of sexual harassment does to women has evolved dramatically in the years since, thanks in no small part to those very hearings. Nor is it even because he routinely violated the norms of good workplace behavior, in a way that seemed especially at odds with the elevated office he was seeking. It’s because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.”

Feb. 19

washington post logorachel crooks cnnWashington Post, Trump accuser keeps telling her story, hoping someone will finally listen, Carolyn Van Houten, Feb. 19, 2018. She believed her best chance to be heard was through sheer repetition, so Rachel Crooks took her seat at the dining table and prepared to tell the story again. She was used to difficult audiences, to skeptics and Internet trolls who flooded her Facebook page with threats, but this was a generous crowd: a dozen women, all friends of her aunt, gathered for a casual dinner party on a Friday night. The hostess turned off the music, clanked a fork against her wineglass and gestured to Crooks. “Would you mind telling us about the famous incident?” she asked. “Not the sound-bite version, but the real version.”

“The real version,” Crooks said, nodding back. She took a sip of water and folded a napkin onto her lap.

“It all happened at Trump Tower,” she said. “I had just moved to New York, and I was working as a secretary for another company in the building. That’s where he forced himself on me.”

Crooks, 35, had been publicly reliving this story for much of the past two years, ever since she first described it in an email to the New York Times several months before the 2016 election. “I don’t know if people will really care about this or if this will matter at all,” she had written then, and after Donald Trump’s election she had repeated her story at the Women’s March, on the “Today” show and at a news conference organized by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred. Crooks had spoken to people dressed in #MeToo sweatshirts and to her rural neighbors whose yards were decorated with Trump signs. In early February, she launched a campaign to become a Democratic state representative in Ohio, in part so she could share her story more widely with voters across the state. And yet, after dozens of retellings, she still wasn’t sure: Did people really care? Did it matter at all?

Despite her story, and the similar stories of more than a dozen other women, nothing had changed. Trump, who had denied all of the accusations, was still president of the United States, and Crooks was still circling back to the same moments on Jan. 11, 2006, that had come to define so much about her life.

Providence Journal, R.I. senator charged with 2 counts of extorting sex from former State House page, Patrick Anderson and Tom Mooney, Feb. 19, nicholas kettle mug Custom2018. A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses state Sen. Nicholas Kettle, a 27-year-old Coventry Republican, of twice coercing a Senate student page to have sex with him in 2011, Kettle’s first year in the General Assembly. The indictment accused Kettle (the GOP minority whip, shown in a mug shot)of threatening to injure the page or harm his reputation if he did not comply.

The alleged victim was a legislative page in 2011 and 2012, when he was 16 or 17 years old. Legislative pages range in age from 15 to college-age, and run errands for the lawmakers in the State House, including shuttling paperwork and bringing water. (Editor's note: This story is excerpted more fully on Feb. 22 in a report on the senator's resignation.)

Feb. 18

clarence thomas w new officialNew York Magazine, Do You Believe Her Now? Jill Abramson, Feb. 18, 2018. It’s time to reexamine the evidence that Clarence Thomas (shown at right) lied to get onto the Supreme Court — and to talk seriously about impeachment.

In the same fall night in 2016 that the infamous Access Hollywood tape featuring Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was made public by the Washington Post and dominated the news, an Alaska attorney, Moira Smith, wrote on Facebook about her own experiences as a victim of sexual misconduct in 1999.

“At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began her post, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court justice who was famously accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies, including the EEOC, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog.

“I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding,” Smith continued. “He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable. But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again … ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.” Smith had been silent for 17 years but, infuriated by the “Grab ’em by the pussy” utterings of a presidential candidate, could keep quiet no more.

Tipped to the post by a Maryland legal source who knew Smith, Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded and scrupulously nonideological Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, wrote a detailed story about Smith’s allegation of butt-squeezing, which included corroboration from Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and from her former husband. Coyle’s story, which Thomas denied, was published October 27, 2016. If you missed it, that’s because this news was immediately buried by a much bigger story — the James Comey letter reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Smith, who has since resumed her life as a lawyer and isn’t doing any further interviews about Thomas, was on the early edge of #MeToo. Too early, perhaps: In the crescendo of recent sexual-harassment revelations, Thomas’s name has been surprisingly muted.

Perhaps that is a reflection of the conservative movement’s reluctance, going back decades, to inspect the rot in its power structure, even as its pundits and leaders have faced allegations of sexual misconduct. (Liberals of the present era — possibly in contrast to those of, say, the Bill Clinton era — have been much more ready to cast out from power alleged offenders, like Al Franken.)

clarence thomasBut that relative quiet about Justice Thomas (shown at left early in his career on the bench) was striking to me. After all, the Hill-Thomas conflagration was the first moment in American history when we collectively, truly grappled with sexual harassment....

But it’s well worth inspecting, in part as a case study, in how women’s voices were silenced at the time by both Republicans and Democrats and as an illustration of what’s changed — and hasn’t — in the past 27 years (or even the last year)....

But, most of all, because Thomas, as a crucial vote on the Supreme Court, holds incredible power over women’s rights, workplace, reproductive, and otherwise. His worldview, with its consistent objectification of women, is the one that’s shaping the contours of what’s possible for women in America today, more than that of just about any man alive, save for his fellow justices.

And given the evidence that’s come out in the years since, it’s also time to raise the possibility of impeachment. Not because he watched porn on his own time, of course....It’s because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.

Lying is, for lawyers, a cardinal sin. State disciplinary committees regularly institute proceedings against lawyers for knowingly lying in court, with punishments that can include disbarment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and forced from office for charges that include lying. The idea of someone so flagrantly telling untruths to ascend to the highest legal position in the U.S. remains shocking, in addition to its being illegal. (Thomas, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on a detailed list of queries.)

Thomas’s lies not only undermined Hill but also isolated her. It was her word versus his — when it could have been her word, plus several other women’s, which would have made for a different media narrative and a different calculation for senators. As the present moment has taught us, women who come forward alongside other women are more likely to be believed (unfair as that might be). There were four women who wanted to testify, or would have if subpoenaed, to corroborate aspects of Hill’s story. My new reporting shows that there is at least one more who didn’t come forward. Their “Me Too” voices were silenced.

Feb. 16

new yorker logoThe New Yorker, Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity, Ronan Farrow, Feb. 16, 2018. One woman’s account of clandestine meetings, financial transactions, and legal pacts designed to hide an extramarital affair,

In June, 2006, Donald Trump taped an episode of his reality-television show, “The Apprentice,” at the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles. Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s publisher, threw a pool party for the show’s contestants with dozens of current and former Playmates, including Karen McDougal, a slim brunette who had been named Playmate of the Year, eight years earlier. In 2001, the magazine’s readers voted her runner-up for “Playmate of the ’90s,” behind Pamela Anderson. At the time of the party, Trump had been married to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years; their son, Barron, was a few months old. Trump seemed uninhibited by his new family obligations. McDougal later wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me - telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you - I think you could be his next wife.’ ”

Trump and McDougal began an affair, which McDougal later memorialized in an eight-page, handwritten document provided to The New Yorker by John Crawford, a friend of McDougal’s. When I showed McDougal the document, she expressed surprise that I had obtained it but confirmed that the handwriting was her own.

The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs — sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously — out of the press.

On November 4, 2016, four days before the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.” This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as “a personal friend.” As part of the agreement, A.M.I. consented to publish a regular aging-and-fitness column by McDougal. After Trump won the Presidency, however, A.M.I.’s promises largely went unfulfilled, according to McDougal.

McDougal, in her first on-the-record comments about A.M.I.’s handling of her story, declined to discuss the details of her relationship with Trump, for fear of violating the agreement she reached with the company. She did say, however, that she regretted signing the contract. “It took my rights away,” McDougal told me. “At this point I feel I can’t talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. I’m afraid to even mention his name.”

Feb. 15

washington post logochristopher wray officialWashington Post, White House reslsts as FBI director rebuts Porter timeline, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 15, 2018 (print edition). FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s direct contradiction of the White House’s official version of how it handled domestic violence allegations against senior aide Rob Porter plunged the West Wing into a deeper bout of infighting and heightened the uncertainty about Chief of Staff John Kelly’s future in the administration.

Wray is shown at right above in his official photo and below at left in a Justice Department photo at his swearing in ceremony on Aug. 2, 2017. With him was his wife, Holly Howell, and Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions.

christopher wray helen howell aug 2 2017 doj photo cropped

trey gowdy SmallRoll Call, Gowdy Launches Oversight Investigation Into Rob Porter Scandal, Griffin Connolly, Feb 15, 2018 (print edition). ‘How in the Hell was he still employed?’ House Oversight Committee chairman asks. The House Committee on Oversight and Government reform has launched an investigation into the White House’s handling of senior aide Rob Porter, who was not issued a permanent security clearance due to allegations of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives.

“Who knew what, when, and to what extent? Those are the questions that I think ought to be asked,” the committee’s chairman, GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina(shown above right) said Wednesday on CNN.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump and Pence made peculiar statements on Wednesday. You should listen closely, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 15, 2018 (video). Over a week after the Rob Porter scandal broke, President Trump felt obliged to issue a statement.

What came out was the most grudging, nonspecific utterance you could imagine. Indeed, he sounded resentful in having to address the issue at all. “I’m totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So, now you hear it, but you all know.” Everyone knows that. But, until now, we had not heard the president say it. What was more revealing was that he did not say any of the following:

  • I won’t tolerate any abuser in my administration.
  • We must encourage women to come forward and believe them when they do.
  • I believe Rob Porter’s ex-wives.
  • We should not have people with a history of spousal abuse in high government positions.

Nope, he didn’t express any of these sentiments, which in any other administration would never be questioned. Trump, however, has a troubling past.

Feb. 14

washington post logostormy daniels djt insight 1 19 2018 CustomWashington Post, Longtime Trump attorney says he made $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels with his money, Feb. 14, 2018. Michael Cohen (shown in a file photo above) did not say why he paid the money to the adult-film star (shown at right on an InTouch Magzine cover last month) — who says she had an affair with President Trump — or whether Trump reimbursed him or knew about the payment.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s lawyer goes off the deep end, Bill Palmer, Feb. 13, 2018. As Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on obstruction of justice charges against Donald Trump, we’ve seen Trump and his allies take increasingly desperate swings and misses in recent weeks, in the hope of fending off the inevitable.

djt stormy daniels screengrabNow Trump’s lawyer is trying what can only be described as a desperate last ditch gambit, and it’s difficult to see how this is going to work out well for either of them.Trump’s affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels (shown at right in a file photo separate from Trump's) was a crime against his wife Melania, but not part of the Trump-Russia criminal probe.

However, Trump’s $130,000 payoff to keep Daniels quiet about it is a legal matter. It’s been established that Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen created a phony company in Delaware in order to keep Trump’s name off the transaction. That’s still not necessarily illegal, but the trouble is that the money appears to have come from Trump’s campaign finances, which would be a violation of federal law.

Feb. 13

djt rob porter famous mormons Custom

On June 1, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, 40, assists President Trump with Vice President Pence (r) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

ny times logochristopher wray cropped SmallNew York Times, F.B.I. Contradicts White House on Porter Timeline, Michael D. Shear, Feb. 13, 2018. Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, contradicted on Tuesday the White House timeline about the domestic abuse scandal involving Rob Porter, the president’s former staff secretary. Mr. Wray (shown in a file photo) said that the bureau delivered to the White House a partial report on problems in Mr. Porter’s background in March, months earlier than the White House has admitted receiving the information.

Mr. Porter, one of President Trump’s top aides, was forced to resign last week after allegations of abuse by his two ex-wives were made public, sparking a week of shifting explanations by White House officials about who knew about Mr. Porter’s past and when they knew it.

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Wray did not disclose the contents of the bureau’s inquiry. But he said that after the partial report in March, the F.B.I. gave the White House “a completed background investigation” in late July. He said the bureau received a request for a “follow-up inquiry” and provided more information about Mr. Porter’s background to the White House in November.

Related story: washington post logofbi logoWashington Post, FBI followed protocol in security clearance for ex-White House aide, director says, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris​, Feb. 13, 2018.​ Bureau Director Christopher A. Wray's testimony before a Senate panel comes as the White House tries to deflect criticism over its handling of a security clearance for senior aide, Rob Porter, who stepped down last week after being accused of spousal abuse.

At the same hearing, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testified that he expects Russia will continue to use propaganda, false personas and other tactics to undermine this year’s midterm elections.

colbie holderness rob porter Custom

Images of Colbie Holderness after an alleged incident with her then-husband Rob Porter in the early 2000s. (Courtesy of Colbie Holderness)

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Rob Porter is my ex-husband. Here’s what you should know about abuse, Colbie Holderness, Feb. 13, 2018 (print edition). .Colbie Holderness was the first wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that she has no reason not to believe statements that Jennifer Willoughby and I have made about our ex-husband, former White House aide Rob Porter. I actually appreciated her saying that she at least did not not believe us.

rob porter fileBut I was dismayed when Conway, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” went on to say that she does not fear for White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who has reportedly been dating Porter (shown at right). “I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.”

Borrowing Conway’s words, I have no reason not to believe her when she says that Hicks is a strong woman. But her statement implies that those who have been in abusive relationships are not strong. I beg to differ.

Recognizing and surviving in an abusive relationship take strength. The abuse can be terrifying, life-threatening and almost constant. Or it can ebb and flow, with no violence for long periods. It’s often the subtler forms of abuse that inflict serious, persistent damage while making it hard for the victim to see the situation clearly.

For me, living in constant fear of Rob’s anger and being subjected to his degrading tirades for years chipped away at my independence and sense of self-worth. I walked away from that relationship a shell of the person I was when I went into it, but it took me a long time to realize the toll that his behavior was taking on me. (Rob has denied the abuse, but Willoughby and I know what happened.)

Telling others about the abuse takes strength. Talking to family, friends, clergy, counselors and, later, the FBI, I would often find myself struggling to find the words to convey an adequate picture of the situation. When Rob’s now ex-girlfriend reached out to both Willoughby and me, she described her relationship in terms we each found familiar, immediately following up her description with “Am I crazy?” Boy, I could identify with that question.

Then there is the just-as-serious issue of being believed and supported by those you choose to tell. Sometimes people don’t believe you. Sometimes they have difficulty truly understanding what you are trying to tell them. Both Willoughby and I raised our cases with clergy. Both of us had a hard time getting them to fully address the abuse taking place. It wasn’t until I spoke to a professional counselor that I was met with understanding.

washington post logojennifer rubin twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Kelly needs to come clean, Jennifer Rubin (shown at right), Feb. 13, 2018.​ Now it appears that for days Chief of Staff John F. Kelly (below left) and his subordinates misled the American people, and perhaps the president, in making it appear that john kelly o dhsRob Porter still had the potential to be granted a final clearance.

This is false, raising the question as to why, knowing that he could not qualify for such a clearance, Porter would be kept on and given continued access (we presume) to top classified material.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is at her worst at a strange time — when she’s talking about respect for women, Margaret Sullivan, Feb. 13, 2018.​  A briefing on Monday showed the press secretary's trademark disrespect for reporters and represented a new rock bottom from the podium at the Trump White House. And that is really saying something.

sarah huckabee sanders screenshotAnd that is really saying something, given the lying-from-day-one reign of Sean Spicer, along with Sanders’s own fulsome history of dissembling, and the 10-day flameout of Anthony Scaramucci last summer.

With her dismissive gestures, her curled-lip sneers, her ready insults and guilt-free lies, Sanders is a conduit — a tool — for Trump’s own abusive relationship with journalists. Does it really make sense to keep coming back for more?

Law, Politics Around the Nation: A Young Siegelman Runs In Alabama

Feb. 12

jennie willoughby nbc today tease

Jennifer Willoughby, shown above right, in an NBC News interview

washington post logojennifer rubin twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Trump has chosen the wrong women to demean, Jennifer Rubin (shown at right), Feb. 12, 2018. Jennie Willoughby, an ex-wife of disgraced former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, has had quite enough of Trump’s routine. In response to his Saturday tweet whining that men’s lives are being “shattered” when their abusers step forward (“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false.....There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”), Willoughby writes:

The words “mere allegation” and “falsely accused” meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar. That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That abuse is something to be questioned and doubted. . . .

I think the issue here is deeper than whether Trump, or General John Kelly, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Senator Orrin Hatch, or Hope Hicks, or whether anyone else believes me or defends Rob. Society as a whole has a fear of addressing our worst secrets. (Just ask any African-American citizen). It’s as if we have a societal blind spot that creates an obstacle to understanding. Society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the reality of abuse.

Columnist Rubin, continued: Trump and his defenders make a grave error in making this a battle between Trump, who a large majority of Americans think is dishonest, and victimized women. His devoted cult may take his side, although judging from my interactions with Republican women loyalists, some are becoming more and more agitated and frustrated that their spinning isn’t working and that they are being placed in the position of defending the indefensible. (Tip: You put yourselves there. Stop doing it.) What Trump is doing is summoning once again an army of women and fighting against a cultural tide, far deeper and wider than a political “issue.”

KFOR via Yahoo! Former Oklahoma Police Officer Accused Of Raping 13-Year-Old Girl, Staff report, Feb. 12, 2018. A former Oklahoma police officer is accused of raping a teenage girl numerous times and even threatening the girl and her family if she told anyone about the crime.

Feb. 11

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Appears to Doubt #MeToo Movement in Tweet, Mark Landler, Feb. 11, 2018 (print edition). After the resignations of two aides facing claims of domestic violence, Mr. Trump said that “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” President Trump thrust himself into the national debate over sexual misconduct on Saturday, asserting that “a mere allegation” could destroy the lives of those accused, as his own White House was engulfed by charges of abusive behavior.

Mr. Trump, in an early morning Twitter post, appeared to be defending two of his aides who resigned this past week after facing claims of domestic violence.

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” he wrote. “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?”

The statement echoed Mr. Trump’s dismissive response to allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse made over decades against male friends, colleagues and, above all, himself.

kellyanne conway fox aug.28 2016HuffPost, Conway Defends Trump Response To Abuse Allegations Against Ex-Aide, Kate Sheppard, Feb. 11, 2018. The president, she says, believes “you have to consider all sides.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (shown in a file screenshot) said she has “no reason not to believe the women” who accused staff secretary Rob Porter of domestic violence ― but then defended President Donald Trump, who has suggested that the allegations might not be true.

“This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Conway about a tweet from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) arguing that congressional hearings should be held for the women who have accused Trump of assault or abuse.

“Those accusers have had their day on your network and elsewhere for a long time,” Conway said. “I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand.”

Feb. 10

djt rob porter ex 2 10 18 Custom

On Feb. 10, 2018, the New York Daily News published a cover story showing Colbie Holderness, a beaten wife of future Trump Staff Secretary Rob Porter

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Squirms as Trump Veers Off Script With Abuse Remarks, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Feb. 10, 2018. Tax cuts and economic growth appear to be improving the party’s political position, but President Trump can’t stop antagonizing voters, especially women. He appeared to ignore victims of sexual abuse and express doubts about the #MeToo movement, saying, “lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.”

djt official portraitSaturday was a case in point. In a Twitter post, Mr. Trump appeared to raise doubts about the entire #MeToo movement, a day after he had offered sympathy for a former aide accused of spousal abuse.

“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” the president wrote on Twitter, adding: “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

On Friday, the president had jumped into the controversy over the former aide, Rob Porter, who is accused by two former wives of physical and emotional abuse, defending him and offering no denunciation even for the idea of assaulting women. Mr. Trump, who himself has been accused of exual misconduct, focused instead on Mr. Porter, saying that he was enduring a “tough time.”

The president’s seeming indifference to claims of abuse infuriated Republicans, who were already confronting a surge of activism from Democratic women driven to protest, raise money and run for office because of their fervent opposition to Mr. Trump.

tim nolan mugNew York Daily News, Trump-backing former judge pleads guilty to human trafficking charges, Jessica Schladebeck, Feb. 10, 2018 (print edition). A Trump-supporting Kentucky man who previously served as a district judge pleaded guilty to a slew of crimes on Friday, including human trafficking.

Tim Nolan (shown in his mug shot), the self-proclaimed chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in Campbell County, could face up to 20 years behind bars for felony charges that also include promoting human trafficking of minors and unlawful transaction with minors, according to a press release from the Kentucky attorney general’s office.

The 70-year-old former judge was arrested in April and was later indicted on 28 felony counts and a pair of misdemeanor charges. As part of a plea agreement, Nolan pleaded guilty to 21 of those charges, which involved 19 victims. He’s also required to pay a $110,000 fine — the bulk of which will be donated to the Human Trafficking Victims fund established by state Lawmakers in 2013.

Nolan’s indictment rattled his small Kentucky community, where he worked as a district judge until 1985. He was well-known in Campbell County as an outspoken member of the Tea Party and enthusiastic Trump backer.

Sunday Guardian (Sri Lanka), Larry Nassar and The Unbelievable National Security Problem, Lori Handrahan, Feb. 10, 2018. Dr. Lori Handrahan has worked on gender discrimination and sexual exploitation as a university professor and humanitarian for over twenty years. Her most recent book is "Epidemic: America’s Trade in Child Rape."

Feb. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Kelly Is Now Center of the Storm He Was Hired to Tame, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Feb. 9, 2018. President Trump is calling the chief of staff he pushed out, Reince Priebus, to complain about John Kelly (shown at right), the chief of staff who took Mr. Priebus’s place.

See also, washington post logoWashington Post, Kelly offers account of Porter exit that some White House aides consider untrue, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 9, 2018. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Friday morning instructed senior staff to communicate a version of events about the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter that contradicts the Trump administration’s previous accounts, according to two senior officials.

During a staff meeting, Kelly told those in attendance to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions in such meetings are supposed to be confidential.

“He told the staff he took immediate and direct action,” one of the officials said, adding that people after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.

That version of events contradicts both the public record and accounts from numerous other White House officials in recent days as the Porter drama unfolded. Kelly — who first learned of the domestic violence allegations against Porter months ago — issued a glowing statement of support for Porter’s personal character after the allegations first surfaced publicly Tuesday and privately urged him to remain on the job until the next day when his resignation was announced.

nbc news logoNBC Today, Rob Porter’s ex-wife Jennifer Willoughby: He was ‘verbally and emotionally abusive,’ Staff report, Feb. 9, 2018. (6:18 min. video). Joining TODAY live, Jennifer Willoughby, an ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, describes him pulling her out of the shower during an argument as well as “attacks on my character and intelligence.” She says that “of course” she believes the allegations of physical abuse by Porter made by his first wife, Colbie Holderness, and says there was no coordination between her and Holderness.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Praises Top Adviser Accused of Abusing Ex-Wives, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Feb. 9, 2018. “We wish him well,” President Trump said, as a nearly all-male top White House staff appears to have looked the other way about allegations against the disgraced adviser, Rob Porter.

President Trump on Friday praised Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned on Wednesday amid spousal abuse allegations, saying it was a “tough time” for the disgraced former aide and noting that Mr. Porter had denied the accusations.

“We wish him well,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Porter, who was accused of physical and emotional abuse by two ex-wives. The president added, “As you probably know, he says he is innocent.”

“He worked very hard,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. He said he had only “recently” learned of the allegations against Mr. Porter and was surprised.

“He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him,” Mr. Trump said. “But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now.”

The glowing praise of a staff member accused of serial violence against women was in line with the president’s own denials of sexual impropriety despite accusations from more than a dozen women and his habit of accepting claims of innocence from men facing similar allegations. Among them was Roy Moore, the former Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, who is accused of molesting teenage girls.Continue reading the main story

Mr. Trump’s comments came as a new timeline emerged indicating that top officials knew much earlier than previously disclosed that Mr. Porter faced accusations of violence against women.

david sorensen

washington post logoWashington Post, Second White House official departs amid abuse allegations, which he denies, Elise Viebeck​, Feb. 9, 2018. The abrupt departure of speechwriter David Sorensen (shown above at the White House) comes after his former wife claimed that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their turbulent two-and-a-half-year marriage — allegations that he vehemently denied.

A White House speechwriter resigned Friday after his former wife claimed that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their turbulent 2½ -year marriage — allegations that he vehemently denied, saying she was the one who victimized him.

The abrupt departure of David Sorensen, a speechwriter who worked under senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, came as The Washington Post was reporting on a story about abuse claims by his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett. Corbett told The Post that she described his behavior to the FBI last fall as the bureau was conducting a background check of Sorensen.

White House officials said they learned of the accusations by Sorensen’s wife Thursday night, before The Post contacted the White House for comment.

Corbett first contacted The Post a week before Porter’s case became public. She said that during her marriage to Sorensen, he ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast, an incident she said left her fearing for her life. During part of their marriage, he was a top policy adviser to Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

She said she did not report her abuse allegations to police because of Sorensen’s connections to law enforcement officials.

Corbett said several of the incidents involved alcohol and acknowledged that she slapped Sorensen a number of times after he called her a vulgar term.

washington post logoWashington Post, Breaking with tradition, Trump skips president’s written intelligence report and relies on oral briefings, Carol D. Leonnig, Shane Harris and Greg Jaffe, Feb. 9, 2018. For much of the past year, President Trump has declined to participate in a practice followed by the past seven of his predecessors: He rarely if ever reads the President’s Daily Brief, a document that lays out the most pressing information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies from hot spots around the world.

cia logoTrump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people familiar with his briefings. Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The arrangement underscores Trump’s impatience with exhaustive classified documents that go to the commander in chief — material that he has said he prefers condensed as much as possible. But by not reading the daily briefing, the president could hamper his ability to respond to crises in the most effective manner, intelligence experts warned.

Feb. 8

Rob Porter's ex-wife Jennie Willoughby told The Post in an interview that the White House aide was abusive during their marriage. (Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post)

washington post logojohn kelly o dhsWashington Post, The White House’s Rob Porter debacle is a sign of incompetence or hubris — or both, Aaron Blake, Feb. 8, 2018 (6:15 min. video). “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him,” White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said in an initial statement Tuesday about allegations that the top White House aide had abused an ex-wife.

By Wednesday afternoon, Porter resigned amid allegations that he had abused another ex-wife, who produced photographs of her black eye. And Kelly was suddenly “shocked.”

“I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society,” Kelly said. But, he added: “I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.”

Kelly was the man brought in to restore order to a White House in chaos. The Porter controversy has displayed once again how rudderless the West Wing remains.

It would be one thing for the White House to keep its powder dry as Porter faced allegations — to say what Kelly said at the end of his Wednesday statement: That “every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation.” The RNC recently has said it would let an investigation play out before returning money raised by its now-resigned former finance chair, Steve Wynn, who faces multiple sexual assault allegations.