Julia Pierson, the director of the U.S. Secret Service, resigned earlier this week after mounting criticism of her handling of security breaches at the White House and allegations of misleading public statements.
Hours after an appearance before the House of Representatives government oversight committee, Pierson submitted her resignation to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service.
“Today Julia Pierson, the director of the United States secret service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the secret service and the nation,” said the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, according to The Guardian.
Joseph Clancy, who retired from the Secret Service in 2011, was appointed as interim acting director.
Pierson’s resignation followed multiple security lapses, including a situation in Atlanta where an armed contractor with a criminal record was allowed to enter an elevator with President Obama and an incident where a man jumped the fence surrounding the White House and entered the White House before being apprehended in the East Room.
“The president concluded that new leadership of the agency was required,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “In the light of reports … legitimate questions were raised.”
“I think it’s in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public if I step down,” Pierson said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency. The media has made it clear that this is what they expected.”
In addition to the security lapses, allegations have been made that Pierson misled the public in her statements about the fence-jumping incident, where it was implied that the intruder was unarmed and tackled at the front doors. Later reports indicated the intruder carried a pocket knife and made it into the East Room.
“As I told Ms Pierson in our phone call earlier today, we appreciate her 30 years of service to our nation, to the secret service, and to multiple presidents,” Elijah Cummings said in a statement.
“I absolutely respect her decision, and now we have to ensure that we focus on the difficult work of fully restoring the secret service to its rightful status as the most elite protective service in the world. I am pleased that Secretary Johnson has agreed with our suggestion to establish an independent panel of outside experts to begin to review these issues, which is a critical step.”