Secret Service Director Julia Pierson handed in her resignation a day after being grilled by both parties in a tense House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
“The president concluded that new leadership at that agency was required,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Earnest told reporters that the three-decade veteran of the agency handed her resignation to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson because she felt “a new direction was necessary.”
“As an interim Acting Director of the Secret Service, I am appointing Joseph Clancy, formerly Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service. Mr. Clancy retired from the Secret Service in 2011. I appreciate his willingness to leave his position in the private sector on very short notice and return to public service for a period,” Johnson said in a statement.
“Today, I have also asked the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, aided by this Department’s General Counsel, to assume control and direction of the ongoing inquiry by the Secret Service of the fence jumping incident at the White House on September 19. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas should complete that review and submit findings to me by November 1, 2014.”
Johnson said he also “determined that scrutiny by a distinguished panel of independent experts of the September 19 incident and related issues concerning the Secret Service is warranted.”
That panel will be “named shortly.”
“I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service,” he said. “The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Pierson’s testimony “was not confidence-inspiring.”
“What she described as mistakes were major security breaches. Now is not the time for our enemies to believe we cannot protect our nation’s Commander in Chief. I appreciate the Director’s service, but it’s time for new leadership at the agency,” Graham said in a statement.
“Additionally, it’s time for an independent top-to-bottom review of the agency, its operations, and ability to fully carry out its mission.”
Pierson, the first woman to head the agency, was appointed in March 2013 after Director Mark Sullivan stepped down.
Sullivan led the Secret Service for seven years, including during the 2009 White House state dinner party-crasher and 2012 Columbian prostitute scandals.
Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN earlier today that Pierson had to go “if she cannot restore trust in the agency and if she cannot get the culture back in order.”
“I think she would agree that she has to go. And I told her that she’s got a tall order there. But it’s going to be very difficult.”
After Pierson stepped down, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the resignation “certainly does not resolve” problems that pre-date her tenure at the agency.
“Yesterday, the Committee called for an outside review by independent experts. Today, Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today agreed that such a review is critical,” Issa said. “The Oversight Committee will continue to examine clear and serious agency failures at the Secret Service that have been exposed.”
“While serious questions surround the Secret Service, Director Pierson served her country with honor and has my gratitude for her efforts.”