Published December 12, 2016
Three more Secret Service agents are expected to lose their job in a widening sex scandal that has rocked the agency.
The Associated Press, citing unnamed federal sources, said the number of agents who will lose their job over the scandal will reach to six.
The news comes the same day that the Pentagon acknowledged that the number of military personnel involved had gone up to 11. Six are in the Army, two in the Marines, two in the Navy and one in the Air Force. The military members have not been charged.
Eleven Secret Service employees were put on administrative leave last week following an incident in Colombia that involved at least some agency personnel bringing prostitutes to their hotel room. The scandal, which involves as many as 20 Colombian women, broke last week after a fight over payment between a prostitute and a Secret Service agent spilled into the hotel hallway.
A 24-year-old Colombian prostitute told The New York Times that the agent agreed to pay her $800 for a night of sex but the next morning offered her only $30. She eventually left the hotel, she told the newspaper, after she was paid $225.
The scandal involved 11 officers and supervisors and at least 11 military members who were working on security before President Barack Obama arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, for the Summit of the Americas last week. The Pentagon acknowledged Friday that an 11th military person, a member of the Army, was implicated in the scandal.
The lawyer for ousted Secret Service supervisors David Chaney and Greg Stokes, Lawrence Berger of New York, said Friday that Obama's safety was never at risk and said leaks surrounding the ongoing investigations "distort the process."
Regardless of what happened inside hotel rooms, Berger said, it never jeopardized the president's security. Berger said he could not comment on the woman's claims about being paid for sex, but added, "I don't think anything she has said is material to any of the issues I am pressing with my clients."
"Nothing that has been reported in the press in any way negatively or adversely impacted the mission of that agency or the safety of the president of the United States," Berger said.
Chaney and Stokes were forced out of the agency Wednesday. A third agent, who has not been identified and was not a supervisor, resigned.
On Chaney's Facebook account, which was made inaccessible on Friday, Chaney joked that he was checking out former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin while he was protecting her in 2008. The AP published a photograph it took of Chaney working in Palin's protective detail in October 2008 during a campaign rally in Carson, Calif.
"I was really checking her out, if you know what i (sic) mean?" Chaney wrote after a friend commented on the picture posted in January 2009 on Chaney's Facebook account.
Speaking on Fox News late Thursday, Palin said the joke was on Chaney.
"Well check this out, buddy — you're fired!" Palin said.
All the 11 Secret Service employees have had their top-secret security clearances lifted.
The Secret Service investigation has included interviews of agents and hotel staff. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said this week that investigators in Colombia have not been able to interview the women.
The tawdry affair has also prompted a military investigation of 11 service members, including six members of the Army, two Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians, two Marine dog handlers and an Air Force airman.
An Air Force colonel and a military lawyer were also dispatched to Colombia this week. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, patronizing prostitutes is a crime for military personnel. It is referred to as "compelling, inducing, enticing or procuring a person to have sex in exchange for money; or receiving money for arranged sex." The UCMJ applies regardless of whether the service member is in the U.S. or abroad.
Officials from U.S. Southern Command, which organized the military role for the security operation, have not provided details of its probe beyond saying that at least some of the military members violated curfew and may have been involved in "inappropriate conduct."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was "preposterous to politicize" the issue, responding to criticism from Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Palin, who have said the allegations reflect poor management of the government under Obama.
Palin described the affair Thursday as a "symptom of government run amok."
"It's like, who's minding the store around here?" Palin told Fox.
Carney said Obama had not had any conversations with Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan but wouldn't rule out that they may speak soon.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.