US President Barack Obama has “absolute confidence” in the Secret Service, the White House says, despite new reports of misconduct by agents, including extramarital affairs and visits to prostitutes.
“The president believes deeply that the vast majority of the men and women who work for the US Secret Service exemplify the highest standards of service,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.
“He believes that the leadership at the Secret Service, including the new director, will address matters as they arise, appropriately,” said Carney.
“But it is important to note that the president believes very strongly that these men and women are professionals and that they put their lives on the line to protect the commander in chief, protect the president, protect his or her family.”
The Washington Post reported that agents had misbehaved in 17 countries in recent years, according to accounts given by whistleblowers to a Senate committee that oversees the Secret Service.
The Post said two people briefed on the accounts said they include agents and managers hiring prostitutes and visiting brothels during official trips.
They also allegedly had extramarital affairs on the road, and had one-night stands or long-term relationships with foreign nationals that were not properly reported, the Post said.
The Post said one whistleblower told the paper that senior management was aware of agents hiring prostitutes on foreign and domestic trips.
The paper reported this week that two agents were removed from Obama’s security detail after allegedly sending sexually explicit emails to a female subordinate.
One of those disciplined, Ignacio Zamora, had led an internal probe into a scandal last year in which more than a dozen Secret Service agents drank and caroused with prostitutes ahead of a presidential visit for an international summit in the city of Cartagena, Colombia.
The Secret Service learned of Zamora’s emails to the subordinate after he tried to retrieve a bullet that he had left behind in a woman’s room at the posh Hay-Adams hotel near the White House, the Post says.