Orrin Hatch sends letter of apology to Rob Porter's ex-wives

Retiring Republican lawmakers on Rob Porter

Sen. Orrin Hatch has sent letters of apology to the ex-wives of Rob Porter, who resigned as staff secretary from President Trump's White House earlier this month over allegations that Porter abused the two women.

"While I'd like to keep the actual letter private, I can confirm that the content of it is as Jennifer Willoughby has described elsewhere. I appreciate the Senator's apology," Colbie Holderness, Porter's first ex-wife, said in a text message to CBS News. Willoughby is Porter's second ex-wife.

Porter had served as Hatch's chief of staff in Congress and Hatch had previously defended Porter, describing him as a "decent man."

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"I am heartbroken by today's allegations," Hatch said. "In every interaction I've had with Rob, he has been courteous, professional and respectful. My staff loved him and he was a trusted adviser. I don't know the details of Rob's personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable. I am praying for Rob and those involved."

An aide to Hatch told CBS News, "Before the accusations were printed, Senator Hatch had been informed by multiple sources that there was a coordinated effort underway to smear and undermine Rob. His comment was not related to the women or their accounts, he made it before any stories were written."

Willoughby, the second ex-wife of Porter, told CNN that Hatch apologized in the letter.

"It was a sincere apology for pain he may have caused us," Willoughby said.

CBS News' Becky Van Dercook contributed to this report.