Update: Feb. 8, 2018. The following is a note from Hal Boyd, who, at the time this piece was published in 2017, was opinion editor of the Deseret News.
The allegations of domestic violence against Rob Porter are deeply disturbing. Mr. Porter denies the allegations. He has since resigned his position as White House secretary. Domestic abuse in any form is reprehensible and must never be condoned. No public accomplishments, educational achievements, prestige or pedigree can compensate for the ill treatment of others, especially those within the intimacy of the home or the heart.
If I was even slightly aware of the allegations which have recently surfaced against Mr. Porter, I would not have written this column, and I certainly would not have deployed such effusive prose. The journalistic failings of this column are mine alone.
Abuse is no respecter of social standing. All victims of domestic violence deserve safety and healing. They also deserve to be heard and believed.
America, meet Rob Porter — the new White House staff secretary and assistant to the president of the United States.
A thrice-diplomaed Harvard man with Rhodes scholar credentials, Porter has enough behind-the-scenes GOP experience to easily pass as Karl Rove's debonair alter ego.
He also comes from a strong Latter-day Saint pedigree with a predilection for serving U.S. presidents. Porter's father, Roger, worked under three of the past eight administrations before landing at Harvard. Combining both their tenures, the father-son duo has advised nearly every Republican administration since Gerald Ford.
The noun "porter" is synonymous with gatekeeper. And fittingly, Rob Porter is now the one helping decide what papers appear on the president's desk, who attends what meetings and what's on the White House's agendas and briefings.
In addition to being a high-ranking presidential adviser, Porter keeps the Trump train running on schedule and, hopefully, on the right track.
Of course, if you're already enthused about Donald Trump's presidency, then the news that Trump hired a level-headed, hyper-competent Republican pragmatist as staff secretary is simply confirmation of a vote well cast.
Conversely, if you're, shall we say, a bit more anxious about the new administration, understanding that Porter's steady hand is an integral ingredient to Trump's team should assuage at least a few fears.
Having sat down with Porter in the months prior to his appointment, I can vouch for his intellectual acuity, professional comportment and policy prowess. And as far as integrity is concerned, anyone who wrote a doctoral-length dissertation on C.S. Lewis — as Porter did at Oxford — should be presumed ethical until proven otherwise.
Yet, don't take my word for it.
Ask some of D.C.'s sterling surnames about Porter, and their praise is nothing short of effusive.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, for whom Porter worked as chief of staff, calls him an "excellent choice." While lamenting the loss of Porter's talents in his office, Hatch says, "There's almost no limit to what he can accomplish at the White House — both for Utah and the nation."
Hatch, who's been a frequent visitor to the Oval Office during the first two weeks of Trump's presidency, has witnessed "Rob hard at work" and has engaged with him and the president on issues related to Bears Ears and the Supreme Court.
But it's not just politicians singing Porter's praises.
Judge Thomas B. Griffith, a highly respected federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, points to Porter's rare combination of scholarly intellect and "the care and attention to detail that comes with being a first-rate lawyer." These attributes, Griffith says, along with sound judgment, have "earned him widespread respect and admiration at the highest levels of all three branches of our national government."
Critics of the Trump administration warn talented Republicans against sullying their reputations by working for a controversial administration. Yet many more Americans are undoubtedly appreciative of people like Porter who forgo lucrative private-sector opportunities in order to help the executive branch function properly for the good of the nation.
Donald Trump is lucky to have Rob Porter, and so too are the American people.