The White House has dismissed a Washington Post report claiming that it knew details of a scandal involving Secret Service members and a prostitute in Colombia in 2012. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that allegations of the scandal were reported, investigated and dismissed two years ago.
In April 2012, members of President Barack Obama's advance Secret Service team were accused of disclosing details about his trip to prostitutes and others in Cartagena, Colombia, during a drunken night out. The Post report, published Wednesday, claimed that senior White House aides knew about the incident but failed to investigate the incident thoroughly. White House volunteer Jonathan Dach, 25, is also alleged to have escorted a prostitute to his room at the Cartagena Hilton but his lawyer, Richard A. Sauber, denied the allegations.
Supposed WaPo "exclusive" was previously reported by AP, CBS, ABC, Politico, The Hill & others - 2 years ago. http://t.co/dk9qV0TbJK
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) October 9, 2014
The Post story said that the Secret Service had twice sent information about the agents who were terminated and about Dach to Kathleen Ruemmler, then-White House counsel, who decided both times that the aide did not do anything wrong. The report also said that a Senate committee had asked the inspector general’s office of the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the matter in further detail, adding that the general's office had found evidence including records and eyewitnesses who had accompanied Dach in Colombia.
However, the lead investigator told the Post that he had faced pressure from his seniors working with Charles K. Edwards, then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence because it was an election year.
“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to the Washington Post. Nieland also said that his superiors had asked him to “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”
White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said Wednesday that Obama and his advisers did not interfere with the inspector general’s investigation and said, according to the Post: “As was reported more than two years ago, the White House conducted an internal review that did not identify any inappropriate behavior on the part of the White House advance team.”
According to the Post's report, which the publication says is based on government documents and interviews, its reporters saw evidence to show there was a woman present in the room with Dach, and she had given her photo ID to hotel authorities and had publicized herself earlier on social media. However, the report said that it could not locate the woman despite an intense search.
The investigation by the Secret Service had led to 10 of its agents being fired but officials had said they still could not find anything wrong.
“Out of due diligence, the White House counsel’s office has conducted a review of the White House advance team and . . . came to the conclusion that there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior,” Jay Carney, the former press secretary had said two years back, according to the Post.