Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Three more Secret Service officers leave agency over scandal

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WASHINGTON — Three more Secret Service officers are leaving the agency in the prostitution scandal that has brought scorching criticism of agents' behavior in Colombia just before President Barack Obama's visit for a summit last week. Agency director Mark Sullivan came to the White House late Friday to brief Obama.

The Secret Service announced the resignations, bringing to six the number of officers who have lost their jobs because of events at their hotel in Cartagena.

Also on Friday, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa urged a broader inquiry, including checking hotel records for White House advance staff and communications personnel who were in Cartagena. In a letter to Sullivan and the inspector general at the Homeland Security Department, Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked whether hotel records for the White House staffers had been pulled as part of the investigations.

Obama's spokesman has assailed Republican criticism that has attempted to blame a lack of presidential leadership for the scandal and has said Obama would be angry if allegations published so far proved to be true. Obama received his first personal briefing by Sullivan on Friday, officials said.

An additional Secret Service employee was implicated Friday, the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed government official said who commented only on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. That brings the number to 12.

The scandal also involves at least 11 military members who were working on security before Obama arrived in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas. The Pentagon acknowledged Friday that the 11th person, a member of the Army, was implicated.

The incident in Colombia involved at least some Secret Service personnel bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms. News of the incident, which involves up to 21 Colombian women, broke a week ago after a fight over payment between a prostitute and a Secret Service agent spilled into the hotel hallway.

In Colombia, a senior official in the local prosecutor's office who was not authorized to be quoted by name said that an investigation into the case began Thursday to ensure that none of the prostitutes involved was a minor.

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