Administration

GOP lawmaker: Secret Service agents may have been ‘scapegoats’

Getty Images


Secret Service agents may have been used as “scapegoats” by the White House to “cover up what is potentially a broader problem” relating to the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, according to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). 

In a letter to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, Chaffetz questioned whether a White House staffer involved in the scandal in the Colombian city of Cartagena had been disciplined. 

He also demanded that the White House turn over all documents related to the White House counsel’s review of the incident by Oct. 24. 

{mosads}“Recently I have received information from credible sources that records also identified a White House staff person as checking in a female foreign national (FFN) as an overnight guest during the same trip and that steps were taken by the administration to cover-up or deflect their involvement in the initial incident,” Chaffetz wrote in the letter.

A number of Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the incident, in which agents brought prostitutes back to a hotel where Obama was to stay for a summit of Western Hemisphere leaders.

Chaffetz questioned whether the White House had sufficiently investigated whether the staffer was involved in similar behavior and suggested the possibility of a double standard.

Chaffetz shared the Oct. 3 letter publicly Wednesday night, after a story published in The Washington Post said senior White House aides had information suggesting that the member of the advance team had invited a prostitute back to the hotel as an overnight guest.

The Post identified the staffer in question as Jonathan Dach, a 25-year-old volunteer at the time who is now a policy adviser in the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, according to the Post.

Dach has denied the allegations.

Chaffetz does not name Dach in his letter, but writes that he is “concerned” that the Secret Service “agents have been used as scapegoats to cover up what is potentially a broader problem.”

“I have the sincerest of hopes that the White House would discipline their own staff in the same manner the administration dealt with USSS agents implicated in Cartagena,” wrote Chaffetz, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Chaffetz noted that in April 2012, then-press secretary Jay Carney dismissed allegations that any White House staff was involved in anything inappropriate.

Carney said a the time: “There has been no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team or the White House staff.”

Carney noted the White House Counsel’s office conducted a review of the president’s advance team and found no indication of improper behavior by staffers.

Chaffetz said it was “unclear” how the White House reached its conclusion since the review was internal, and questioned whether such a review took place.

The White House has responded to the Washington Post story by decrying it as old news. Stories about the possibility that a member of the White House advance team had been involved in the scandal were raised two years ago, though the Post story shed new light on what the White House knew at the time.

After it was published, press secretary Josh Earnest tweeted, “Supposed WaPo ‘exclusive’ was previously reported by AP, CBS, ABC, Politico, The Hill & others — 2 years ago.”

That drew a response from Chaffetz: “Then you should have no problem providing all the information you have to our committee,” he said on Twitter in response. “Will you do that?”

The story comes after a series of security lapses by the Secret Service that led to the resignation of Director Julia Pierson last week.

Tags Colombia Jason Chaffetz Josh Earnest Prostitution Secret Service

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video