Oct 1, 2014 3:16 PM

Bipartisan calls for Secret Service chief to leave

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) High-ranking lawmakers from both parties Wednesday urged Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to resign, as support for Pierson eroded in the wake of her poorly received testimony about the White House break-in.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, were both to issue public calls for Pierson's resignation on Wednesday afternoon, their offices said. And Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Pierson should either resign or President Barack Obama should fire her.

"Unfortunately, the Secret Service director's appearance before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has left us with more questions than answers," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Although he stopped short of calling for Pierson's resignation in a statement, he backed a call for an independent investigation and said, "the president must make a swift determination on whether the agency is being well-served by its current leadership."

Chaffetz and another top member of the oversight panel, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, are seeking further information in the hours after a congressional hearing Tuesday in in which Pierson sought to explain the embarrassing White House security breach, but failed to satisfy lawmakers. Cummings said in multiple interviews Wednesday that Pierson was no longer the best person to lead the Secret Service, but later clarified that he felt that if Pierson can't restore trust among her agents, "then she should go."

"There has to be accountability when that is not the case," added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who also backed calls for an independent investigation.

The Sept 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the Executive Mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security involving the Secret Service. The alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, pleaded not guilty through his attorney Wednesday in federal court.


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