Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said today he is considering holding a hearing on allegations that Secret Service officers were involved with prostitutes while protecting the president in Colombia.
“This is a very disappointing, troubling lapse,” Lieberman said today. “I have asked my staff to look at it. I am not just going to do a hearing for the sake of a hearing, but if we think there is something constructive that we can accomplish with a hearing, then we will hold one.”
Lieberman said he plans to speak today with Mark Sullivan, director of the Secret Service.
Lieberman, who ran for vice president in 2000, said that his interaction with agents had been very positive.
“I am troubled by it because I have such respect for the Secret Service,” Lieberman said. “I lived with them for about four or five months in 2000; they are first-rate professionals.
“They were very devoted to their job,” he added.
His comments came after the Secret Service said Monday that the agency pulled the security clearances of 11 individuals alleged to have been involved in the Colombia incident. Those Secret Service officials, and more than 10 members of the military, have been accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Cartagena in what has been a widening scandal.
Sullivan received the backing of President Barack Obama today.
“The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a press briefing. “Director Sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter.”
Other Senators have also weighed in. Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Secret Service along with the homeland security panel, said he too is pleased with Sullivan’s response.
“Director Sullivan called me today to provide the latest on the incident with Secret Service agents and prostitutes in Colombia,” the Iowa Republican said in a release. “It sounds like he’s taking the situation very seriously. It was welcome news that he has called on the Inspector General for an independent review. The allegations against a few agents in the Secret Service have given the entire agency a black eye, and a transparent, independent review should help the agency regain some respect from the American taxpayers and from people around the world.”
Grassley said the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic and Republican staffs have begun preliminary discussions about whether and how the committee should proceed. A staff briefing with the Secret Service has been scheduled for later this week.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.