WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Secret Service said on Wednesday that two agents were under investigation after an incident last week in which they were reported to have driven a government car into White House barricades after drinking at a late-night party.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that one of the agents involved in the alleged March 4 incident was a top member of President Barack Obama’s protective detail.
The Post quoted current and former government officials familiar with the incident as saying officers on duty wanted to arrest the agents and give them sobriety tests. But a supervisor ordered the agents be sent home, the officials told the paper.
A Secret Service spokeswoman said in a statement the agency was aware of the allegations against the two agents and that « if misconduct is identified, appropriate action will be taken based on established rules and regulations. »
The Secret Service statement added that its director, Joseph Clancy, had been briefed on the allegations and that the investigation had been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General.
Clancy was chosen to head the agency by Obama after a series of high-profile security lapses led to a shake-up in the leadership of the agency charged with protecting the president.
Former Director Julia Pierson stepped down in October after an embarrassing Sept. 19 White House breach in which a man carrying a knife jumped the fence and ran into the executive mansion.
The service’s credibility was also damaged in 2012 when it was revealed that members had hired prostitutes while in Cartagena, Colombia, in advance of an Obama trip.
Two senior officials on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee said that despite the changes in leadership, « this incident begs the question of whether that is enough. »
« The fact that this event involved senior-level agents is not only embarrassing but exhibits a clear lack of judgment in a potentially dangerous situation, » said the statement by the committee’s Republican chairman, Jason Chaffetz, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings. (Reporting by Peter Cooney and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Shumamker)