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According to a statement released Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Julia Pierson has resigned as director of the Secret Service. Johnson also said he would appoint Joseph Clancy as interim acting director.
Mr. Clancy, 58, who most recently was special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division, has spent the last three years in charge of security at Comcast in Philadelphia. “He is somebody who has earned the respect and admiration of the men and women who are his colleagues at the United States Secret Service,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “He is also somebody who has the full confidence of the president and the first lady.”
Pierson on the other hand had been with the agency for 30 years, and led it for more than a year, but came under intense scrutiny after a former Iraqi war veteran armed with a knife scaled the White House fence and made it inside the executive mansion before being subdued by a Secret Service agent.
Moreover, just three days prior to this incident, agents had allowed a contractor on an elevator with Obama only to find out later that he was a convicted felon and was carrying a gun.
As a consequence, Pierson had told a congressional committee on Tuesday she took “full responsibility” for security lapses, and on Wednesday, she offered her resignation in a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who accepted it.
“The Oversight Committee will continue to examine clear and serious agency failures at the Secret Service,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “Problems at the Secret Service pre-date Ms. Pierson’s tenure as director, and her resignation certainly does not resolve them.”
In an interview after her resignation was announced, Pierson said she recognized that “Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency.” She also said she met Johnson on Wednesday and “after that discussion I felt this was the noble thing to do.”
Moreover her appearance at a Tuesday hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was, by many accounts, a poor performance that may have led directly to her resignation. Pierson was wooden, unemotional about her agency’s mistakes, and did not respond to a number of questions about details.