Senior White House aides knew that a prostitute spent the night with a member of the Secret Service’s presidential advance team station in Colombia but failed to properly investigate, or even publicly acknowledge, that fact. The details are included in a new report in the Washington Post that comes amid major questions about exactly how much security the Secret Service provides the president.
Almost two dozen Secret Service and U.S. military personnel were handed down some form of punishment after the 2012 prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, in which agents charged with protecting the president were accused of drunkenly providing details about his route to prostitutes and other hangers-on. But a new look at the investigation that followed seems to indicate that government watchdogs, intentionally or by accident, failed to follow up on evidence that may have been even more damaging to the Secret Service, and thus the Obama administration.
“We were directed at the time … to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general’s office told Senate staffers looking into the matter, as quoted by the Post. Nieland also indicated that his bosses pressured investigations “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”
Charles K. Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, later resigned from his position after being dogged by allegations that his office failed to adequately investigate the events in question. Along with costing jobs, though, the dispute has created tension between the Secret Service and the White House that still lingers two years later.
Much of the scrutiny, according to the Post, has centered on White House volunteer Jonathan Dach, a then-25-year-old Yale graduate who may or may not have hired a prostitute while on the trip. He’s consistently denied the allegations but questions around Dach, the son of a prominent Democratic donor, has fueled the notion that White House staff was just as guilty as the 10 members of the Secret Service who were dismissed.
Larry Berger, a lawyer who represented a number of those agents, told the Post that his clients and Dach were treated “radically different by different parts of the same executive branch.”