Obama to wait for review before making Secret Service pick

President Obama will wait to select a new permanent director for the Secret Service until after a panel of outside experts completes its review of their agency later this month, the White House said Thursday.

“Once [the] review is completed and briefed to an outside panel of experts, I think they are going to be looking at the agency, the leadership there, and the attractive qualities that will be sought after in a new director,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters traveling with the president back from Chicago aboard Air Force One.

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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced plans for the panel on Wednesday, after accepting the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson following a string of high-profile security blunders.

“By December 15, 2014, this panel will submit to me its own assessment and recommendations concerning security of the White House compound,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson said the commission would be tasked with submitting “recommendations for potential new directors of the Secret Service,” and that those candidates may include individuals from outside the agency. Former Secret Service official Joseph Clancy, who headed the president's protective detail before retiring in 2011, will serve as the interim head of the agency.

The White House also said Obama feels “absolutely” safe despite the security breaches, which in the past month included a man successfully scaling the White House fence and entering the executive mansion and another incident where a man with a gun rode an elevator with the president despite not having been cleared to do so.

“The president has no shortage of appreciation for the men and women who serve in the secret service, their bravery, their sacrifice, their determination, and the hard work and the courage they put on the line every day,” Schultz said.

Separately, the White House is working “very hard on” and is “very close” to naming a replacement for Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderLegal challenges to stay-at-home orders gain momentum Census delay threatens to roil redistricting Storm builds around Barr over dropping of Flynn case MORE, who announced last week his plans to leave the administration. The administration appears eager to have a vote on the replacement during the lame-duck session in Congress, amid fears Republicans could recapture the Senate during the midterm elections.

“We’re going to be focused on filling this position as soon as possible,” Schultz said.