Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, resigned on Wednesday after a series of serious safety breaches dating back to 2011 were publicly revealed. Pierson was in charge of the agency responsible for protecting the president and the first family for about 18 months.
She will be replaced by an interim director, Joseph Clancy, a former special agent who retired in 2011. Clancy was formerly in charge of the president’s protective detail.
Pierson’s resignation came after a series of events that put the president and his family at risk. On September 19, an Army veteran jumped the White House fence, crossed the lawn, and made it far into the White House before he was stopped. Then it was revealed that in 2011, a man had shot the windows of several second-floor windows of the White House from outside the fence. The president’s mother-in-law and one of his daughters were in the White House at the time. The bullet holes were discovered by a housekeeper cleaning the windows.
On Wednesday morning, a recent incident surfaced in which Secret Service protocols were violated when an armed contractor with a criminal history was allowed in an elevator with the president.
A terse statement about the resignation was issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
“Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it,” said Johnson. Pierson was in the Secret Service for 30 years.
While Johnson lauded the work and reputation of the Secret Service as “one of the finest official protection services in the world,” he also said that an independent panel of experts will investigate the series of safety and protocol breaches. The panelists, who haven’t been named yet, will assess the overall situation and make recommendations to Johnson regarding the security of the White House compound. They will also look at possible broader issues within the Secret Service and make recommendations for a permanent replacement for Pierson.
President Barack Obama swore in Pierson as the first female director of the Secret Service on March 27, 2013. At the time, he described her reputation with the agency as “extraordinary.” He also said she would do an outstanding job in the position.
“Obviously, she’s breaking the mold in terms of directors of the agency, and I think that people are all extraordinarily proud of her,” said Obama in a statement after she was sworn in. “We have the greatest confidence in the wonderful task that lies ahead and very confident that she is going to do a great job.”