By Mike Lillis - 04/19/12 08:13 PM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she's "stunned and disgusted" by the prostitution scandal dogging the Secret Service this month.
The California Democrat said she has not been briefed on the incident — in which almost a dozen Secret Service agents caroused with prostitutes ahead of President Obama's recent trip to Colombia — but she urged a quick investigation into the culture of the agency and suggested those involved should be fired.
"It's a stunning thing. It's actually disgusting," Pelosi said Thursday at her weekly press briefing in the Capitol. "There has to be an investigation to see how this could have happened and those responsible should have to pay a price."
She later added, "I don't see how those who are involved in this should be able to continue in their work."
Pelosi cautioned, however, against implicating the entire agency for the mistakes of a few, noting that "many people in the Secret Service … do their jobs responsibly."
"We can't paint everyone with the same brush," she said. "But nonetheless, those people who are responsible have brought disgrace, and it's disgusting."
The Secret Service launched an immediate investigation into the scandal, which involved 11 agents, as well as members of the military, assigned to Cartagena to prepare security for Obama's visit. The Americans allegedly drank heavily at a bar and brought as many as 21 prostitutes back to their hotel. The scandal broke following a dispute between one of the prostitutes and one of the agents over the cost of the evening's tryst.
On Wednesday, the Secret Service announced that three of the 11 implicated in the scandal will soon leave the agency — one fired, one retired and one resigned — while the other eight remain under investigation.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that he spoke with Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan for an hour this week, and was encouraged by Sullivan's indignation.
"He was extremely upset about this and, I believe, just based on the things he said to me, if it were up to him, every single one of them would have been fired on the spot," Cummings said. "It would not surprise me if there were, within the next few days, additional resignations or firings."
Cummings said Sullivan is convinced the incident caused "no penetration of security."
Meanwhile, congressional leaders in both parties are awaiting more details before they decide if they have a role surrounding the scandal.
Cummings and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight panel, sent Sullivan a letter Wednesday asking for more information about the 11 Secret Service officers involved in the incident.
Cummings said the letter is designed to probe whether the recent scandal was an isolated event, or evidence of broader cultural problems within the agency.
"So far we're on the same page on this," Cummings said of Issa.
Issa and Cummings have asked Sullivan to respond by May 1.
"At that time, we'll figure out where we go from there," Cummings said, "depending on what we find."
Pelosi, for her part, said she has "no idea" if the Secret Service has underlying cultural problems that allowed the prostitution incident to happen.
"I hope that's not the case, but only an investigation will demonstrate that," she said. "It's hard to understand how such a thing could happen."