The findings of a Department of Homeland Security internal Inspector General investigation into the Secret Service prostitution scandal contradicts the agency’s initial responses to the incident, ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported on Thursday evening.
At a May Senate Homeland Security committee hearing, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan said, in reference to the 12 agents who were accused of boozing with and soliciting prostitutes in Colombia before President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, that “this just is not part of our culture.”
“Thus far, we have not found that this type of behavior was exhibited by any of these individuals before,” Sullivan said during that hearing.
According to Tapper, though, the internal DHS investigators’ report “revealed that one of the agents who was in Cartagena during the scandal and picked up a prostitute ‘admitted to soliciting a prostitute on two previous occasions, once in El Salvador in 2008/2009 and one time in Panama in 2009.’”
“The report also mentioned allegations of similar misconduct by agents on trips to Romania and China,” Tapper continued. “Details from the report, labeled ‘law enforcement sensitive,” were shared with ABC News by sources who had reviewed it.’”
“The investigation found that while Secret Service personnel were still on the ground in Cartagena, one of the supervisors that had engaged in misconduct was alerted that his actions had become known,” Tapper added. “He, in turn, warned other Secret Service staffers in Colombia that they should not bring prostitutes back to their hotel rooms.”
Quoting a “senior Secret Service official with knowledge of the investigation,” Tapper wrote that “Sullivan had been briefed prior to his testimony, and that ‘while some agents had been truthful regarding their conduct with prostitutes in Cartagena, none had confessed to prior contact with prostitutes. One agent, who later admitted to the OIG that he had indeed engaged in prior misconduct with prostitutes in El Salvador and Panama, had previously denied in an interview with USSS Office of Professional Responsibility that he had not had prior contact with prostitutes.’”
Tapper also said that the Secret Service has obstructed the DHS IG investigation, as 10 current and former senior agency officials refused interviews.
Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told ABC News, too, that he and other senators are “concerned that the inspector general was interfered [with] in terms of his investigation, that was constrained and hampered.”
“These are very serious charges — the fact that the Secret Service has been implicated in this kind of behavior that puts the president’s life at risk, our national security at risk, and we cannot get the answers,” Johnson added.
Johnson added that he’s suspicious there may be a cover-up going on.
“The fact that we’ve hit a brick wall just makes me highly suspicious that there is something being covered up here and the American public has a right to know.”