WASHINGTON — Police surveillance video shown publicly for the first time Tuesday shows Secret Service agents in their government vehicle driving through the secured area and nudging a temporary barrier at low speed as it drove toward a checkpoint. The incident occurred as on-duty officers and agents investigated a suspicious item thrown near the White House on March 4.
The House Oversight Committee showed the video from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy was testifying for the third time about the incident, in which two senior agents are accused of drinking before driving into the White House complex and pushing the barrier with the SUV’s bumper.
Clancy has been criticized for the agency’s handling of the incident and has complained that he was not told about it for five days, which he called unacceptable. He said he only learned about the incident from discussions about an anonymous email that was circulating within the agency.
The email described the off-duty agents as “both extremely intoxicated” and confused about the investigation activity. It said uniformed Secret Service officers at the scene “were going to arrest both of them, but the UD (Uniform Division) watch commander said not to.”
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general is investigating allegations against the agents.
Lawmakers asked to speak with the agents involved, as well as Secret Service supervisors who were on duty that night, during the hearing. The Secret Service declined to make them available and Clancy appeared alone.
In a written statement, Clancy said the case remains under investigation and any appropriate discipline will be imposed afterward.
Clancy also announced a new policy put in place after acknowledging that some video of the March 4 incident had been deleted. Clancy said the agency will start retaining routine surveillance video for seven days. Previously, surveillance recordings that weren’t being used as part of ongoing investigations were deleted after 72 hours.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah,, the oversight committee chairman, said it was “highly suspicious” the video was deleted.
ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press