Julia Pierson, the director of the Secret Service, resigned on Wednesday after multiple breaches of White House security under her leadership.
One of the breaches happened on Sept. 16 when the president was in Atlanta for an appearance at the Centers for Disease Control. An armed security contractor with an assault record was only inches away from President Obama in an elevator. The Washington Post reports that he started recording a video of Obama and didn’t stop when agents told him to.
Another breach was on Sept. 19. A mentally troubled Army veteran with a knife jumped the fence and went through the front doors of the White House. He made it all the way to the East Room before he was tackled by an off-duty agent.
The day before her resignation, Pierson went before a House committee to discuss what happened. According to NBC News, she quickly lost the support of Congress. One of the lawmakers on the committee even suggested that the Secret Service director was better at protecting her reputation rather than doing her actual job of protecting the White House.
The committee also pressed Pierson on a recent disclosure about a 2011 shooting incident. Allegedly, the Secret Service failed to recognize the shooting as an attack until days later. A White House housekeeper was the one to discover the evidence of broken glass due to multiple rounds from a high-powered rifle along the Truman Balcony, according to The Post.
Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, told reporters that accumulating security lapses under Pierson’s leadership has led the president to conclude that new leadership for the agency was necessary.
Pierson, 55, served the agency for 30 years. She was appointed to director 18 months ago after her predecessor had various scandals happen in the agency during his time of service.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa noted on Tuesday that the country had “placed great trust” in the agency that gets $1.5 billion in funding. He elaborated that this trust has been deteriorating since 2009 when a couple crashed a White House state dinner.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton also pointed out that President Obama faces three times the number of threats than any other president ever has. In reference to the breaches, she said, “It’s kind of a bad time for this to happen.”
Following Julia Pierson’s resignation as Secret Service director, retired special agent Joe Clancy will serve as interim acting director. Obama’s advisers have high hopes that he can lead the agency through the embarrassments of these White House security breaches.