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Politico: 3 Secret Service leave jobs, bringing total forced out to nine

Politico — by Jennifer Epstein

Three more Secret Service employees were forced out of their jobs Tuesday, bringing the total number of agency employees to lose their jobs in the Colombia prostitution scandal to nine.

Two of the employees are resigning, while a third is having his security clearance revoked and will leave the agency, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House homeland security committee, told POLITICO. Two more agency employees have been cleared of any wrongdoing. Paul Morrissey, the Secret Service's assistant director, confirmed the personnel changes in a statement.

With the latest departures, all 12 Secret Service employees suspected of misconduct in Cartagena ahead of the president's trip there for the Summit of the Americas have been dealt with by the agency. Six resigned or were fired last week, while another employee was cleared.

"At this point, all twelve have either been cleared of serious misconduct, resigned, retired, been notified of personnel actions to permanently revoke their security clearances, or have been proposed for permanent removal for cause," Morrissey said. "The Secret Service is committed to conducting a full, thorough and fair investigation in this matter, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action should any additional information come to light." 

King said he was satisfied to see the agency take such swift action. "It's certainly a very effective start to move that quickly and, for all the known people, to have their cases resolved," King said. "It's been a fast-moving investigation. I give [agency director] Mark Sullivan a lot of credit."

But the investigation is far from over.

King said he expects to see the Secret Service continue its investigation to determine whether any other agency employees were involved and to fully understand what took place in Colombia earlier this month.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is sure to be questioned about the misconduct when she tesifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning. And Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that his Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold hearings on the agency's culture and rules for off-duty agents who are on assignment.

Earlier Tuesday, President Obama called the Secret Service employees involved "a couple of knuckleheads," but voiced support for the agency as a whole. "These guys are incredible. They protect me. They protect Michelle. They protect the girls. They protect our officials all around the world," he said on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."