WASHINGTON (AP) — A top lawmaker briefed on the investigation into a Secret Service prostitution scandal said more firings could be imminent following the forced ouster of three agency employees.”
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“I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw more dismissals and more being forced out sooner rather than later,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said Thursday. King is being updated on the investigation by Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.
“You may see a few more today or tomorrow,” King added.
The Secret Service is moving quickly to quell the scandal that erupted late last week, when at least some of 11 agency employees implicated in the incident brought prostitutes back to their hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, where they were setting up security for a visit by President Barack Obama.
So far, three people involved have lost their jobs. The service said Wednesday that one supervisor was allowed to retire, and another will be fired for cause. A third employee, who was not a supervisor, has resigned.
The two supervisors are in the agency’s uniformed division; one is a sergeant, according to a person familiar with Secret Service operations and refused to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
The team under investigation includes members of the agency’s “jump teams,” which are sent to sites ahead of the president’s arrival to set up security. Others involved are on counter-assault and counter-sniper teams. The majority of those involved are believed to be based in the Washington area.
Eight other Secret Service employees remain on administrative leave and have had their top-secret clearance revoked.
Sullivan has offered the agents under investigation the opportunity to take a polygraph test, though the agents can refuse.
The scandal also involved about 10 military service members and as many as 20 women.
King said agency investigators in Colombia still have not been able to talk to the women who were brought back to the hotel. The investigators do, however, have the names, addresses and pictures of the women, said King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service.
In Washington and Colombia, separate U.S. government investigations are already under way. In addition to the Secret Service investigators in Colombia, King said he has assigned four congressional investigators to the probe. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought details of the Secret Service investigation, including the disciplinary histories of the agents involved.
In a letter to the Secret Service director, Issa and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s senior Democrat, said the agents “brought foreign nationals in contact with sensitive security information.” The lawmakers have demanded that Sullivan provide them by May 1 with detailed information about the incident, including a full timeline of the events that unfolded in Colombia and assurances that none of the women involved were under the age of 18.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that the Secret Service employees under investigation were “stupid” and there’s not much Congress can do to stop others from making the same choices.
“There is not a bill we can pass to cause people to have common sense,” said Reid, D-Nev.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that it was “certainly legitimate” for congressional oversight committees to ask questions about the incident.