The acting director of the Secret Service admitted Wednesday that the agency never disciplined any of its public affairs officials, even though those officials appear to have violated the Secret Service's own internal code about being honest.
Joseph Clancy was bombarded with questions about the September incident in which an armed man jumped over the White House fence and was finally stopped inside the White House by an off-duty official. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, started by noting that the Secret Service said the man was "physically apprehended after engineer the White House north portico doors."
"Is that true or not true?" Chaffetz asked.
"That is not true, sir," Clancy replied. It was later revealed that the man was able to make his way well into the White House.
Shaft also noted that Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told reporters that a search of the man "turned up no weapons." Clancy agreed that this also was not true, and said he thinks a knife was found "within minutes" of his apprehension.
Chaffetz then asked Clancy repeatedly whether anyone had been disciplined for misleading the public, a question Clancy had difficulty answering.
"The Secret Service misled us on purpose," Chaffetz said. "Was there any consequence to any personnel? Did you follow the code, and did you actually suspend or remove people from their service? Was there any consequence for providing false information?"
"I agree with you, and I have the same outrage that you have regarding the communication…" Clancy began.
"But I want to know what you did about it," Chaffetz interrupted. He was forced to interrupt again when Clancy said officials need to do a better job communicating with each other.
"No, I want to know if there's any consequence," Chaffetz said. "Did anybody face disciplinary action? You have a major morale problem, and this is why. There doesn't seem to be a consequence to doing something that's in obvious violation of your own internal codes."
"This is not an intentional violation of the code. This was, we just haven't communicated…" Clancy said.
When asked again if there were any consequences, Clancy finally admitted: "No, there was no discipline administered in those examples that you gave, sir."
Shaft said again that the low morale within the Secret Service is due to the agency's failure to discipline its own staff when necessary. But even still, Clancy indicated no discipline would be forthcoming, as he views the problem as a communications error.
"I would not say it was intentional," he said. "There is a difference between misconduct, sir, I think, and operational errors."