Another aide to President Donald Trump has resigned after accusations of spousal abuse against him surfaced, the Washington Post reports.
David Sorensen, a 32-year-old speechwriter and former Maine GOP operative, stepped down Friday after his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, told The Post that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their two-and-a-half-year marriage. Sorensen has denied the accusations and has said he was himself a victim of abuse during the relationship.
Sorensen and Corbett have been divorced since September. They had been married since December 2014, but it is not clear how long they had been separated before their divorce was finalized.
His resignation comes after former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned after his two ex-wives accused him of abuse. Porter has also denied the allegations.
“Before we were contacted by the media, we learned last night that there were allegations. We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement Friday night.
Sorensen said in a statement sent in a text message to The Post that he “didn’t want the White House to have to deal with this distraction. It should be able to focus on continuing President Trump’s historic accomplishments for the American People.”
Here’s what you need to know about Sorensen:
1. Sorensen’s Wife Says He Ran Over Her Foot With a Car, Put Out a Cigarette on Her Hand, Threw Her Into a Wall &
David Sorensen’s ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, contacted the Washington Post a week before Rob Porter’s case became public. She said that during her marriage to Sorensen, he ran over her foot with a car, put out a cigarette on her hand and threw her into a wall. She also told the newspaper he grasped her menacingly by her hair while they were alone on their boat in remote waters off Maine’s coast. She said that incident left her fearing for her life.
She told The Post she didn’t report the abuse because of Sorensen’s connections to law enforcement. She said that several of the incidents involved alcohol and that she slapped Sorensen a number of times after he called her vulgar terms.
According to The Post, Corbett gave the newspaper a photo of her hand bearing a scar she said was from the cigarette burn. She also provided records of text messages and emails in which Sorensen berated her with vulgar language and discussed their deteriorating marriage with others, according to The Post. Two friends and associates of Corbett told the newspaper she confided in them during the marriage that Sorensen was abusive.
John Bremer, a close friend of Corbett, told the newspaper that Corbett told him that Sorensen ran over her foot and yanked her hair on their boat around the time of those alleged incidents. Bremer said, “She was in a situation where everyone was on David’s side because of who he was and who he worked for.”
He said he helped Corbett create a bank account outside of Sorensen’s control so she could escape the marriage. He said he would get tearful phone calls from her.
“This was a woman who was going through abuse,” Bremer told The Post. “These were very vivid and intense calls I would get. It’s not something you can fake or come up with.”
Corbett told The Post that she texted her mother and said she was contemplating suicide, messages she showed the newspaper.
Corbett told the newspaper she detailed her allegations to an FBI agent during Sorensen’s background check in October 2017. A Maine Republican operative told The Post that he spoke to Corbett shortly before her meeting with the FBI.
“She told me she was a little nervous about what to tell them. She told me later that she told them the truth,” the unnamed operative told the newspaper.
Corbett published a lengthy Medium piece standing by her statements to The Post after the story was published.
“I never set out to destroy my ex-husband’s career. I felt myself lucky to escape my marriage relatively unscathed. I was happy to leave that ugly period in my life behind and create a new existence filled with optimism and hope. I would have left it alone but I knew deep down that other women weren’t as fortunate and that I had to do something,” she wrote. “I told my story because talking about relationship violence is the only way to stop it. Women stay silent because there is so much to lose. In speaking up I hope to encourage other women who suffer in silence to come forward — there is an army of love and support waiting for you.
“My story is messy, humiliating and tragic, but it’s my truth. Two years ago, I used to wonder how I would survive each day. Not anymore. It’s only because of the Grace of God and the incredible people He put into my life that I am able to survive,” Corbett added. My friends and loved ones took the time to educate themselves (and me) about what relationship violence is and how to help a friend who is experiencing it. If you think that you or a loved one might be in an abusive relationship, there are resources to help you.”
2. He Says He ‘Never Committed Violence of Any Kind Against Any Women’ & ‘Was the Victim of Repeated Physical Violence During Our Marriage’
Sorensen denied the accusations, telling The Post, he “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. He said he has contacted an attorney and is “considering legal options to address her defamation.”
Sorensen said Corbett punched him on multiple occasions, including one time when he said he tried to leave in his car and she ran after him after he was pulling away, injuring herself in the process, the newspaper reports. He also said in another incident she grabbed the steering wheel as he drove on the highway and punched him in the face during an argument.
Sorensen issued a lengthy statement about Corbett and the accusations:
Sorensen gave The Post photos of what he said were injuries caused by her during those incidents, including bruises and scrapes.
He said, “this incident is an opportunity to highlight the grossly underreported and unacknowledged issue of female-on-male domestic violence.”
Sorensen told the newspaper, “like many domestic abusers, she was especially adept at controlling her rage so that no others witnessed her physical attacks.”
In response, Corbett told The Post that her actions never escalated beyond slapping Sorensen and added, “Everything I told you is 100 percent true and that is why he had to resign today.”
3. He Was Previously a Top Aide to Maine Governor Paul LePage & a Republican Operative Known for Being ‘Aggressive & Sometimes Combative’
Sorensen is a former top aide to Maine Governor Paul LePage and was a longtime Republican operative there before joining the White House in May 2017, according to the Portland Press-Herald.
According to the Press-Herald’s Eric Russell, Sorensen, “has a reputation as an aggressive and sometimes combative political operative, particularly while he was working for the House Republicans and for the state party. During the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, he tussled with reporters and engaged frequently on social media with Democratic counterparts. Since he’s been an adviser to the governor, he’s been more low-key although still a regular presence in the State House.”
Christopher Cousins, of the Bangor Daily News, wrote about Sorensen in 2014 that he is “is known to crank out a dizzying number of press releases but has been criticized at times — including by a handful Republicans who have complained about him in off-the-record conversations with me — for his strident tone and attacks on Republicans’ political opponents that at times have bordered on personal.”
Corbett is also connected to Republican politics and LePage, according to The Washington Post. She was a bridesmaid for LePage’s daughter, Lauren, in her 2015 wedding. She worked for Senator Marco Rubio during his first Senate bid and was part of former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign. She was also finance director for Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s Congressional campaign in 2014.
Corbett told The Post that after Lauren LePage’s wedding, Sorensen threw her into a wall. She said she confided in Lauren about the abuse and asked her to talk to her father. Lauren LePage told the newspaper she was aware of problems in the marriage, but “neither witnessed or saw any evidence of domestic abuse.”
Julie Rabinowitz, a spokeswoman for LePage, told the newspaper, the governor “has a zero-tolerance policy regarding domestic abuse,” and added no accusations or evidence of domestic violence on the part of Sorensen were brought to the attention of LePage, his wife or the governor’s staff.
4. Sorensen, a Massachusetts Native & Maine Law School Grad, Was Previously Married & Has a Son With His First Wife, Who Says He Wasn’t Abusive to Her
Sorensen is a Massachusetts native, according to the Portland Press-Herald. He graduated from Barnstable High School in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 2013. Sorensen then graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 2010 with a history degree and the University of Maine School of Law in 2014.
After law school, Sorensen stayed in Maine and became involved in politics, according to the newspaper.
According to the Maine GOP’s website, Sorensen worked as the communications director for the House Republicans, the Maine GOP’s Communications Director, spokesman for Maine DHHS and then senior policy advisor to Governor LePage.
In that role, “(As the communications director for House Republicans) he crafted messaging that helped to defeat Medicaid expansion and pay off Maine’s hospital debt. As Maine GOP Communications Director, he helped lead the earned media effort that saw Gov. Paul LePage re-elected,” the website said. “As spokesman for Maine DHHS under Commissioner Mary Mayhew, Sorensen spread the good news of the Administration’s welfare reforms. Currently a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor LePage for health and human services and regulatory matters, Sorensen works to advance the Governor’s agenda in the State House.”
Sorensen was married before Corbett, according to the Washington Post. His first wife, Mauranda Stahl, told the newspaper, she never knew him to be violent or abusive during their marriage or the 10 years they have known each other.
“In those years he never raised a hand to me or exhibited any behavior consistent with Jessica’s accusations. Because of that I have a difficult time believing there is any validity to those claims,” she told the newspaper.
According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, Stahl and Sorensen were married in August 2010. The couple divorced in 2013. They have a son together, who they share custody of, according to public records.
Sorensen and Corbett were engaged in October 2014, according to a wedding announcement in the Valdosta Daily Times . They were married in December 2014 on a chartered yacht off the coast of Hawaii. Their divorce was finalized in September 2017.
In his statement on the accusations, Sorensen said he is currently dating Alanna Malik, who works in Washington, D.C. for the World Food Programme. Sorensen and Malik are pictured together on her Facebook page in December outside the White House, and she also has photos taken inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
5. Sorensen Worked Closely With Stephen Miller & Was a Speechwriter for the Council on Environmental Quality, a Position That Didn’t Require Security Clearance
In the White House, Sorensen worked closely with Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, according to The Washington Post.
He was the speechwriter for the Council on Environmental Quality, a division of the Executive Office of the President, a role that does not require security clearance. But his application for clearance was ongoing, administration officials told The Post. The FBI did not comment on that process.
When he left LePage’s staff to work for Trump, Sorensen wrote on Facebook that it was an “extraordinary” honor to work in the White House.
“This is an opportunity not for me but for our country, to help President Trump make America great again just as Governor LePage has made Maine great again,” he wrote.
Corbett told The Post it is “scary” that someone like Sorensen could possibly have access to sensitive information at the White House.
“Everyone can think you’re the most wonderful guy, but you’re throwing women into walls by night,” she told the newspaper.