- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2012

The White House tried Monday to contain the growing Secret Service scandal over the reported hiring of prostitutes ahead of President Obama’s recent trip to Colombia, revealing it conducted a brief internal probe of the episode and found that no White House staffers were involved.

“Over the last several days, that review was conducted, and it produced no indication of any misconduct,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

But he refused to give any details of that review, conducted by the White House counsel’s office. Mr. Carney said the probe, which examined members of the White House advance team, began Friday and ended “over the weekend.”

Six Secret Service employees, including two supervisors, have lost their jobs since an investigation began into their night of carousing and drinking in Cartagena, Colombia, several days before Mr. Obama’s visit for an international summit.

The Secret Service has said 12 employees are “implicated” in the investigation. The Pentagon has said 12 of its service members are being investigated. By Monday, all 24 men had their security clearances suspended or revoked.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King, New York Republican, said on NBC’s “Today” show that more Secret Service agents would lose their jobs. A few Republicans, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, have said the Secret Service incident and other recent government scandals reflected poorly on Mr. Obama’s record as head of the executive branch.

One of the Secret Service agents reportedly brought a woman back to the Hilton Cartagena, the same hotel where Mr. Obama later stayed, several days before the president’s arrival.

Some lawmakers want to know whether members of the White House Communications Agency, who provided advance support for the trip, were involved in the suspected misconduct. The Associated Press reported Monday that the Pentagon probe had expanded from 11 members to 12, and that the 12th man was assigned to the White House Communications Agency.

Mr. Carney said those employees are members of the military, not hired by White House senior staff.

“These are military personnel, staffed by the military,” Mr. Carney said. “They are no more members of the White House staff than Secret Service personnel.”

Mr. Carney refused to answer repeated questions from reporters about how the review was conducted, such as whether the White House counsel checked hotel records in Cartagena. He said the review was initiated in consultation with the office of the president’s chief of staff, Jack Lew.

“I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow of what was involved in the review,” Mr. Carney told reporters.

He also said that Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan did not offer his resignation when he met with Mr. Obama on Friday in the Oval Office.

The president’s spokesman decried “rumors published on the Internet by people with no editors and no conscience.”

“Only out of due diligence have we conducted this review, which revealed what we thought to be the case,” Mr. Carney said. “If someone comes to us with some credible allegation that anybody at the White House was involved in any inappropriate conduct, I’m sure we’ll look at it. But there isn’t that.”

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