Chaffetz: White House intruder close enough to 'rattle the door handle'

A man who jumped the White House fence and roamed the grounds of the executive residence last week was close enough to "rattle the door handle," Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Finance: Trump pitches massive tax cuts | Freedom Caucus endorses plan | Dems slam framework | House GOP to move B border wall bill | Officials under fire for private jet use GOP lawmaker pushes to end sports leagues' tax-exempt status Republicans predict Senate ObamaCare repeal would pass House MORE (R-Utah) said Friday.

Chaffetz, citing a conversation with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, said during an interview on CNN that the suspect "was able to get up next to the White House, hide behind a pillar, look through a window, rattle the door handle."

"It's just beyond comprehension," said Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee.

President Trump was reportedly in the White House at the time of the incident, which took place on the evening of March 10. Trump said at the time that Secret Service did a "fantastic job" apprehending the suspect.

On Friday, it was revealed that the intruder was on White House property for more than 16 minutes, much longer than originally thought.


Chaffetz called the Secret Service's response to the episode a "complete and utter, total failure," recalling that the incident was not the first such instance of someone vaulting the White House fence.

"This one scares me probably more than any because of the length of time, the proximity to the president, getting right up close to the White House and going so long without being detected," Chaffetz said.

"It makes no sense, and I don't know what in the world they're doing, but it is a total and complete embarrassment."

The episode comes two-and-a-half years after a series of security breaches drove then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to resign and thrust the agency into the political spotlight.

The Secret Service is also facing scrutiny after an agency laptop was stolen from an agent's car in New York on Thursday. The laptop reportedly contains floorplans of Trump Tower.