Thursday, February 25, 2021

Peter King defends Secret Service chief on Colombia testimony

The findings of a Department of Homeland Security internal Inspector General investigation into the Secret Service prostitution scandal contradicts the agency’s initial responses to the incident.

Secret Service director Mark Sullivan is under renewed scrutiny after suggestions that he may have lied when he testified about the prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, during a congressional hearing earlier this year.

But a top lawmaker investigating the episode said Thursday that he believes Sullivan has been honest and straightforward with him.

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“I have no reason to believe that USSS Director Sullivan has been untruthful to me in answering written questions posed to him as part of the Homeland Security Committee’s still-ongoing investigation into what happened in Colombia,” Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement to POLITICO.

“As my committee continues its investigation, I look forward to receiving and reviewing the findings of the [Department of Homeland Security] Inspector General once he has concluded his investigation,” the New York Republican continued.

Fox News first reported earlier this week on an internal investigation into the prostitution scandal — which occurred ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas in April – that indicated Sullivan may have lied about whether the women involved had criminal ties.

“Have you now been able to definitively conclude that the women were not associated with — that they were not foreign agents?” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) had asked Sullivan during the May 23 hearing. “That they did not work for drug cartels? That they were not involved in human trafficking? That they were not working for FARC, for example, or other terrorist groups?”

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Sullivan then replied that “no connection” was made to the women “either from a counterintelligence perspective or a criminal perspective.” But Fox reported that Sullivan knew at the time one of the prostitutes had appeared in a CIA database of known criminals.

The Secret Service has defended Sullivan.

“Director Mark Sullivan and the Secret Service have conducted a fair and thorough investigation resulting from the Cartagena incident,” spokesman Ed Donovan told Fox. “The agency response to those with oversight responsibility has been timely and truthful. We will continue to respond to the DHS-OIG and congressional inquiries in that manner. We will not respond specifically to anonymous allegations that have lingered since the beginning of this investigation that are either without merit, grossly inaccurate or blatantly false.”

Several congressional panels are investigating the matter, including King’s committee, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


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