President Barack Obama, speaking for the first time about allegations that Secret Service agents hired prostitutes, said Sunday that “of course I’ll be angry” if those accusations are proven true by an investigation, reports The Huff Post.
“If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry,” Obama said during a press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos following a bi-lateral meeting.
“Obviously what’s been reported doesn’t match up with those standards,” he told a news conference in Cartagena, a Caribbean coastal city known for its beachfront and night life.
“If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry.”
The comments by president Obama were his first public statement on the scandal, which has cast a shadow over his trip to the Summit of the Americas, tells ABC News.
Eleven Secret Service agents and five military service members have been accused of cavorting with prostitutes and heavy drinking at the 5-star Hotel Caribe in Cartagena.
The scandal embarrassed the U.S. government and marred the previously sparkling reputation of the Secret Service, whose agents guard U.S. presidents and their families as well as top government officials and diplomatic missions in Washington.
“The nature of the allegations, coupled with a zero tolerance policy on personal misconduct, resulted in the Secret Service taking the decisive action to relieve these individuals of their assignment, return them to their place of duty and replace them with additional Secret Service personnel,” Assistant Secret Service Director Paul S. Morrissey said in a statement.
“These actions have had no impact on the Secret Service’s ability to execute a comprehensive security plan for the President’s visit to Cartagena,” he said.
According to Chicago Tribune, the Secret Service put 11 agents on administrative leave and the U.S. military grounded five servicemen as a result of the reported incident that occurred before the president arrived.
Despite adult prostitution is legal in Colombia in several “tolerance zones,” officials said the investigation would center less on moral or legal aspects of the alleged behavior and more on whether Secret Service and military protocols were violated — and whether the security of the president could have been compromised.
On Sunday Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of a House of Representatives oversight panel, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program that Secret Service agents could be compromised by the type of behavior alleged.
“In this particular case, the president may not have been in danger but that’s to beg the whole question of … what happens if somebody, six months ago, six years ago, became the victim of their own misconduct and is now being blackmailed?” he said.
“It’s not about whether the president was in danger this time. It’s whether or not you need to make changes so the American people can have confidence” in the agency, Issa said.
The White House press secretary Jay Carney said president Obama was made aware of the allegations but said it “would not be appropriate for the president to characterize something that’s being looked into by the Secret Service at this time.”
Carney insisted, however, that the incident has not been a distraction for Obama, who is participating in the two-daySummit of the Americas with other Western Hemisphere leaders.
“The president does have full confidence in the United States Secret Service,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney said when asked.