SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Just weeks after the Secret Service apprehended a schizophrenic man for illegally entering the White House grounds, another “bizarre” and “loopy” individual has come forward with an admission of bypassing security at the presidential estate. Authorities say this latest breach far exceeds the previous encounter because the suspect, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, entered the Eisenhower Executive Office building, accessed privileged information and remained onsite for hours, without being detected. He is still free and at large.
Secretly Evading the Secret ServiceA man carrying a backpack scaled the fence that girds the White House grounds and lingered undetected on the property for over 15 minutes. He was eventually arrested by Secret Service officers. The incident, which occurred on March 10, called into question the level of security surrounding the new president, who was in the residence at the time of the intrusion.
The culprit, 26-year-old Jonathan Tran, hopped a five-foot fence near the U.S. Treasury Department, overcame the eight-foot vehicle gate adjacent to the East Wing and strolled around unimpeded for several minutes. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for the trespass.
As the New York Times reported, “A Secret Service official said the intruder did not pose a threat to Mr. Trump. But the breach was more serious than most other cases of fence-jumping at the White House: The man was able to elude multiple layers of security before being stopped near the entrance at the South Portico.”
Despite the absence of an imminent threat, Tran’s ability to enter a highly secured government facility prompted Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House of Representatives oversight committee, to demand a briefing from Secret Service Acting Director William Callahan. Emerging news about the second intruder, Nunes, intensified those concerns. In its coverage of the correspondence between Chaffetz and Callahan, Reuters uncovered disturbing details about a decade of security lapses:
“The Committee has longstanding concerns regarding repeated security incidents at USSS-protected facilities,” Chaffetz wrote. He noted that a 2015 committee report on the Secret Service found 143 breaches and attempted breaches over a 10-year period.
But the violation carried out by Nunes now stands as the most egregious. The day before his controversial defense of Trump’s wiretapping claims, Devin Nunes admitted to being on the White House property undetected and without permission -- for several hours.
Nunes Snuck into White House Building for Hours, Never CapturedSpeaking with a former government intelligence official on Monday, CNN clarified that members of Congress, like the general public, must be cleared and escorted into facilities on White House grounds. “Every non-White House staffer must be cleared in by a current White House staffer,” the official told CNN. ”So it’s just not possible that the White House was unaware or uninvolved.”
Nunes said he had infiltrated the White House because he needed a secure area to review the information he had obtained, which presumably linked the Obama administration or other officials to the illicit surveillance of Trump Tower in October 2016.
“Given the Secret Service’s current disengagement from its duties, and utter lack of interest in taking a bullet for Trump, Rep. Nunes felt that the White House was the best place to disappear,” an aide for the congressman explained. “There, he could slip by unnoticed, sneak into a private area, access all the sensitive communications he wanted, and then assess them at his leisure without any disturbance. The media is no longer allowed there, the staff is so beaten down they can’t see straight, most of the newly hired advisers speak only Russian, and the president locks himself away to stare at cable news all day. No reporters, no visitors, no desire. The White House is a perfect hideout.”
Trump, for his part, commended the Secret Service for its “fantastic job” in arresting Tran. He showed little interest in pursuing punitive measures against Nunes. But Chaffetz refused to back down from condemning the Secret Service for its substandard response. He described the shortcomings as “a total and complete embarrassment,” while emphasizing the need for immediate improvements.
“The moment somebody jumps over the fence, they have to be taken down,” Chaffetz told CNN during the Tran situation. “This one scares me probably more than any because of the length of time, the proximity to the president, getting right up close to the White House and going so long without being detected. It makes no sense.”
In a phone interview with the Evening Transcript on Monday, a Chaffetz spokesperson expressed even greater frustration: “It happened again. No detection, no arrests, nothing. Rep. Chaffetz said it before: the moment somebody gains unauthorized entry to White House property, they need to be taken down. Devin Nunes should have been shredded to pieces by Secret Service artillery. Instead of watching him appear before news cameras with his doughy, blotchy, Droopy Dog mug, we should have seen his blistered corpse steaming on the president’s lawn, like the pile it is. Our travel ban’s still up in the air, even though the immigrants aren’t, we lost Trumpcare and now the Secret Service is letting some shifty character with a Latin last name slip over a wall? And he’s got sensitive information about intercepted communications that our intelligence agencies don’t? It’s preposterous. And Congress needs to do something about this nonsense before it’s too late.”
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