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Acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told NBC News there is “no excuse” for the low morale he says has plagued the agency and vowed to correct the problem caused by a series of high-profile and embarrassing blunders.
“There is no excuse for us having a poor morale. We've got great people and we're going to let them shine,” Clancy told NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell on Wednesday after testifying in front on Congress.
In his opening remarks to the House Judiciary Committee, Clancy said the morale problems could have “dire consequences,” but told NBC News the president is not vulnerable. Clancy said he is confident that enhancements made after a man was able to hop the protective gate and enter the White House have improved the security at the president’s home.
During his testimony, Clancy said no disciplinary action was taken after the agency released incorrect information that downplayed the significance of the security breach in September.
“As a member of Congress, as a United States citizen, the Secret Service misled us, on purpose. Was there any consequence to any personnel?” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, asked Clancy.
Chaffetz pressed Clancy on the information released after Omar Gonzalez jumped the White House fence on Sept. 19. Initially the agency said Gonzalez was unarmed and apprehended just after he entered the White House front door. But the Washington Post later reported Gonzalez made it much farther into the White House and had a small knife.
Clancy acknowledged the agency released “bad information” but said it was not intentional.
“There is a difference between misconduct, sir, and operational errors,” Clancy said. No one was disciplined for the misinformation, he said.
However, former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned last month following the string of incidents and Clancy said he is conducting “a comprehensive, bottom-to-top assessment” of failures within the service.