The White House dismissed as old news a report suggesting it covered up evidence that a prostitute stayed with a member of president's advance team in Columbia in 2012. A scandal around that trip saw nearly a dozen Secret Service agents fired.
The Washington Post cited numerous government documents that it said showed that senior White House aides were given extensive details of a Secret Service investigation into the incident. "That information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged," according to the newspaper, which said the Secret Service shared with the White House at least twice the same evidence it used to support the firings of its agents.
The Post said Kathryn Ruemmler, then the White House counsel, had concluded that the then 25-year-old White House volunteer did nothing wrong. It said the lead investigator into the allegations for the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office, meanwhile, told Senate staffers that he felt pressured by his superiors to withhold evidence in the heat of an election year. The White House has pointed out that a bi-partisan Senate sub-committee later questioned that account, saying there was no corroboration.
The Post also reported that office staffers who questioned if there was any White House tie to the Secret Service scandal were put on administrative leave, but officials dispute that staffers were put on leave for that reason.
A lawyer for the advance team member - who reportedly now works as a contracted policy adviser at the State Department - told the Post any allegations about inappropriate conduct were "completely false." White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday night on Twitter that the allegation was reported, investigated and dismissed at the time:
The Associated Press report Earnest linked to says the Homeland Security inspector general uncovered a single hotel record that suggested the aide "might have been involved." The new Post report, however, cited more material - including hotel records, direct interviews of all of the advance-team members on the April 2012 trip and with multiple executives at the Cartagena hotel, as well as hotel logs showing that a woman was registered to the aide's room overnight — complete with a photocopy of her ID card.