US Secret Service Chief steps down following security blunders
Julia Pierson, the first female director of the Secret Service, resigned on Wednesday following security lapses, including one in which an intruder gained access to the White House on September 19.
A subsequent congressional inquiry uncovered other security lapses.
Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a statement. He also announced that the Department of Homeland Security would take over an internal inquiry of the Secret Service and that he would appoint of a new panel to review security at the White House.
Joseph Clancy, formerly a special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service, was named interim director, Johnson said in his statement.
Calls for Pierson to leave her post grew after a poor performance during her testimony Tuesday on Capitol Hill and another bombshell revelation the same day that an armed security contractor was allowed to get into an elevator with the President during a recent trip to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
There were calls from both Democrats and Republicans for Pierson, who was in the job for less than two years, to step down.
“It’s clear to me that the only way to solve the problem the Secret Service has is with new leadership,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “What Julia Pierson describes as mistakes are major security failures on multiple fronts.”
Graham said light security around Obama is “the worst possible signal to send to terrorists and our enemies around the world.”
Pierson started her career in law enforcement as a police officer in Orlando, Florida. She joined the Secret Service in 1983, working in the Miami and Orlando field offices.
Johnson made sure to praise the overall work of the Secret Service when he announced Pierson’s resignation.
“It is worth repeating that the Secret Service is one of the finest official protection services in the world, consisting of men and women who are highly trained and skilled professionals prepared to put their own lives on the line in a second’s notice for the people they protect.”