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Second White House aide resigns amid spousal abuse allegations

Last Updated Feb 9, 2018 11:57 PM EST

White House staffer David Sorensen has resigned amid allegations of spousal abuse, two White House officials confirmed to CBS News. Sorensen denied to the allegations to The Washington Post, which first reported the story. 

"Before we were contacted by the media, we learned last night that there were allegations," Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah said. "We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today."

Sorensen texted the Post he "didn't want the White House to have to deal with this distraction."

Sorensen's ex-wife told the Post that he allegedly ran a car over her foot, put out a cigarette on her hand, threw her into a wall and she feared for her life when he grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine's coast. At the time, Sorensen was working as a policy aide for Maine Gov. Paul LePage. 

Sorensen told the Post in a statement that he had "never committed violence of any kind against any woman in my entire life."

"In fact, I was the victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her," hesaid. He said he was considering a defamation suit against her.

Sorensen's ex-wife told the Post she reported his behavior to the FBI while they were conducting a background check. She said she didn't report the incidents at the time because of Sorensen's connections to law enforcement.  

A White House staffer told CBS News Sorensen's background check was ongoing, and his position did not require security clearance. 

 A source told CBS News Sorensen was a low-level staffer who worked in the Executive Office Building. 

Sorensen's departure comes in the same week that former staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after allegations that he abused his two ex-wives were published. 

White House chief of staff John Kelly has faced mounting questions about how much he knew about the allegations against Porter. Initially, Kelly defended Porter as a "man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him."

By Wednesday night, Kelly said he was "shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter." Deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Thursday the White House could have handled the allegations better.

Shah said Thursday that Kelly only became "fully aware" of the allegations against Porter on Wednesday, but Shah wouldn't elaborate about what "fully aware" meant.

On Friday, President Trump said "we certainly wish [Porter] well."

"As you probably know, he says he's innocent," Mr. Trump said. "And I think you have to remember that."  

CBS News' Arden Farhi contributed to this report.