Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

White House Attempts to Put Scandal in the Past

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. John McCain said he and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (above) asked for a briefing to inquire about the national security implications from the Secret Service incident in Cartagena, Colombia.

Levin also called the briefing “inadequate” and expressed surprise that the briefers didn’t know the names of the investigators in Colombia. Levin said that they were told that the investigation would be completed next week and scheduled another briefing for the following Monday.

Levin said he’s been unhappy with the department’s consultation with Congress in general and wants to talk to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “as soon as possible” about improving communication with Congress. Levin also mentioned a recent press report on a new investigative unit at the Defense Department as something that he was surprised to hear about.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon has told lawmakers that it knew of six military personnel who had broken curfew rules prior to Obama’s arrival in Colombia but that the military allowed them to keep working.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), meanwhile, has continued to press the White House for more details of its internal review of White House advance staff. Carney has declined to say how the review was conducted but that there was no indication of wrongdoing.

In questioning Napolitano on Wednesday, Grassley questioned the thoroughness of all three investigations: “I want to know if the inspector general is truly conducting an independent and impartial investigation. I think the same independent investigation is necessary from the inspector general and defense, and from the White House, to get to the bottom of the story for all of the advance team staff that was in Colombia.”

But Senate Homeland Security and Govermental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) dismissed the concerns about the White House’s internal investigation.

“The White House put out statement that the counsel had completed an investigation and that satisfies me,” he said. “The White House has every reason to do a thorough investigation because if it is found out ... that the White House missed something, it’s going to be very embarrassing.”

Republicans and Democrats have generally praised Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan’s handling of the investigation, noting his frequent contact with lawmakers. Lieberman said Sullivan told him Wednesday that he has 50 more people to interview.

And Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said Tuesday that with all of the issues the Senate faces, “hookers in Cartagena” are very low on his list of priorities.

Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.


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