Senior Obama administration aides knew of a possible White House link to the 2012 Colombia prostitution scandal, despite repeatedly denying any involvement, the Washington Post reported Wednesday night.
Citing new information from government documents and interviews, the Post concluded that senior aides were provided information suggesting a prostitute stayed overnight with a presidential advance-team member in Cartagena, Colombia.
The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts — the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.
The Secret Service shared its findings twice in the weeks after the scandal with top White House officials, including then-White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. Each time, she and other presidential aides conducted an interview with the advance-team member and concluded that he had done nothing wrong.
Further, the Post reported that the lead investigator on the Colombia, David Nieland, case felt pressure from the inspector general’s office to withhold evidence and work around election politics.
“We were directed at the time … to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” Nieland told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement, the Post reported.
“We were directed at the time … to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election.”
He added that he was told by individuals higher up the chain “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”
The White House volunteer accused of possibly being involved in the scandal — Jonathan Dach — denied the charges through his lawyer. The Post notes that it “remains unclear” whether he is guilty.
Dach now works in the Obama administration, serving as a policy adviser at the State Departments Office on Global Women’s Issues.
Dach’s father, Leslie Dach, is a prominent Democratic donor who gave $23,900 to the party in 2008 to help elect Obama. In his previous job, as a top lobbyist for Wal-Mart, he partnered on high-profile projects with the White House, including Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
He, too, joined the Obama administration this year. In July, he was named a senior counselor with the Department of Health and Human Services, where part of his responsibilities include handling the next phase of the Affordable Care Act.
The debate over whether to pursue members of the White House for possible involvement in the scandal was very heated, the Post reported, adding that staffers who seemed to favor looking into the White house were put on administrative leave as a form of discipline.
Multiple Secret Service agents told the Post they were upset about what they saw as a double standard from the White House. They felt the administration was not investigating one of their own, while on the other hand placing full blame on the Secret Service.
Larry Berger, a lawyer who represented many of the agents, said they were treated “radically differently by different parts of the same executive branch.”
The White House adamantly denied the charges to the Post Wednesday.
“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,” principal deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz said.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest further turned to Twitter late Wednesday night to dismiss the story.
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
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