U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned on Wednesday, after several reports in the last week of embarrassing security lapses within the agency tasked with protecting the president and first family.
“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,” Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement.
Johnson announced that in the interim, he’s appointing Joseph Clancy as Acting Director.
Clancy, he said, is a “[former] Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service. Mr. Clancy retired from the Secret Service in 2011. I appreciate his willingness to leave his position in the private sector on very short notice and return to public service for a period.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday that President Barack Obama “expressed his appreciation for [Pierson’s] service to the agency and to the country.”
Speaking to Bloomberg News about her resignation, Pierson said, “I think it’s in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public if I step down. Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency. The media has made it clear that this is what they expected.”
Pierson was grilled by lawmakers at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday for recent reports of security breaches, including a White House fence-jumper who penetrated deep into the mansion, and an incident where a convicted felon with a gun was allowed onto an elevator with the president.
“The president concluded that new leadership of that agency was required,” Earnest said. He added that Clancy was an “an appropriate choice to lead the agency” until a permanent director could be found.