A motorcade carrying Vice President Harris work was involved in a car accident on a closed highway in Washington DC on Monday morning, an incident that concerned both the director of the Secret Service and the vice president and reignited concerns about the agency’s history of hiding its mistakesaccording to two people familiar with the incident.
The Secret Service agent who was driving Harris in a sport utility vehicle hit the sidewalk of a tunnel in the city center with such force that the tire had to be replaced of the vehicle, which stopped the caravan near Foggy Bottom around 10:20 a.m., the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to share internal discussions.
Harris had to be transferred to another vehicle in the caravan so officers could get her safely to the White House. The routine nature of the trip and the high level of training required for the agents leading the president and vice president led many in the Secret Service, as well as Harris, to wonder how such an accident could have occurred.
The Secret Service also did not note key details of the incident in an email that formally alerted higher-ups about the caravan’s delay. The agency’s protection intelligence division reported that “a mechanical failure” in the lead car forced agents to transfer Harris to another vehicle during a scheduled drive to the White House, according to details of the alert shared with The Washington Post.
On Monday afternoon, Secret Service Director Kim Cheatle received information from other agents that the alert did not accurately convey what happenedsaid one of the people. In fact, many other Secret Service agents in Harris’s detail and in the White House, in addition to Harris, knew that his driver had hit the side pavement of a tunnel.
A spokeswoman for the vice president said Harris is grateful for everything the Secret Service does to keep her safe.
“The vice president was not injured and appreciates the quick response of her USSS to get her safely to the White House,” Kirsten Allen said in an emailed statement.
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the driver overcorrected when turning, which caused the accident. He said Harris was uninjured and was delivered safely to the White House.
“During a protective move on Monday, a vehicle in a caravan had a minor overcorrection and hit a curb,” he said. “The protégé was transferred to a secondary vehicle and the caravan continued to its destination. There were no injuries.”
He said officers did not initially share full details of what caused the problem in the vice president’s trailer in the formal written alert, but later informed their superiors in person.
“Initial radio traffic indicated that this was a mechanical failure, and that was communicated to agency leadership by personnel supporting the caravan movement,” he said. “After the protective move was completed, leadership was verbally updated with additional pertinent facts that the vehicle struck a curb.”
Harris was not in danger because she was quickly transferred to another vehicle and medical staff examined her at the White House to make sure she had no injuriesGuglielmi said.
On Monday night, video footage of Harris’ motorcade blocking the tunnel, and officers getting out of follow cars to reach Harris, surfaced on TikTok. The video appeared to have been taken over the phone by someone in a building overlooking Virginia Avenue.
The alert that initially attributed the delay to a “mechanical failure” was sent as part of standard protocol for sharing information about security developments or related concerns with the White House or any of the officials or family members the Secret Service protects. These alerts are official documents that the intelligence division The agency’s protective phones are sent to senior officials and have been used to warn them in the past, for example, when a person tries to jump the White House fence or when agents make a change in security plans due to an emergency. new concern or threat.
Cheatle, who is the second woman to lead the Secret Service, has been in the post for a month after President Biden named her the new director in late August. She has confided in allies that she was concerned about the inaccuracy of the alert related to the Harris crash, according to a Secret Service official who spoke on condition of anonymity to share internal discussions, and was relieved to get a fuller version. the same day. A spokesman declined to comment on what information Cheatle received or her reaction.
The Secret Service has had a long and troubled history of covering up its own mistakes and misconduct.with top leaders and managers often relying on the cloak of secrecy that covers presidential security to cover up agency weaknesses and failures.
The Secret Service misled the public and the First Family about a 2011 White House shooting, claiming it was a group of gang members shooting each other when they had information the shooter was trying to kill President Obama. In 2014, the Service provided incorrect information about a mentally challenged veteran who was able to jump the White House fence, reporting that he was not armed when he was and was stopped at the gate when he was actually inside the White House mansion. . After a night of drinking at an agent’s retirement party in 2015, the top agent in charge of White House security drove with another top supervisor onto the White House grounds and through an area closed due to an ongoing investigation into a possible bomb. Although dozens of Secret Service personnel were aware of the incident, no one reported it to the director at the time, Joseph Clancy, who learned of the security breach from a former agent and friend.