An armed felon was allowed to get “within arm’s reach” of President Barack Obama on an elevator in Atlanta early this month, a serious breach of Secret Service protocols, according to sources familiar with the incident.
Obama was visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the severe Ebola outbreak when the man, a security contractor, reportedly started video recording the president with a cellphone. When Secret Service agents told him to stop recording, he refused.
It was only then that Secret Service questioned the man and ran a “database check,” uncovering his criminal history, the Washington Post reports. The man reportedly has three past convictions for assault and battery.
President Barack Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama walk to greet a group of supporters on the tarmac upon their arrival at JFK International Airport in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Obama arrived in New York for three days of talks with foreign leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Agents later learned he was carrying a firearm while on the elevator with Obama. The contractor was apparently fired on the spot by the supervisor employed by the private security firm.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) blasted the Secret Service’s latest lapse in security on Tuesday, expressing disbelief that a convicted felon managed to get “within arm’s reach of the president and they never did a background check.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) (AP)
“Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the President and his family,” he added. “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”
The latest account comes after a man was able to make it inside the White House after jumping the fence and overpowering a Secret Service agent.
Chaffetz went off during a House hearing on Tuesday, urging the Secret Service to take lethal action if necessary to protect the president and the White House.