Around 10:20 a.m., Secret Service agents driving Harris in an SUV slammed into the roadside of a downtown tunnel so violently that the vehicle’s tires needed to be changed, causing the convoy to stop near Foggy Bottom, people familiar with the matter said. down. Conditions for anonymous sharing of internal discussions.
Harris had to be moved to another car in the convoy so agents could safely take her to the White House. The day-to-day nature of the travel and the high level of training required to drive the President and Vice President’s agents has led many in the Secret Service, as well as Harris, to question how such an accident could have occurred.
The Secret Service also failed to take note of key details of the incident in an electronic message that formally alerted senior leadership to the delay in the convoy. According to details of the alert shared with The Washington Post, the agency’s protective intelligence unit reported that a “mechanical failure” in the front car forced agents to divert Harris to another vehicle during a scheduled operation to the White House. .
By Monday afternoon, Secret Service Director Kim Cheatle had received information from other agents that the alert did not accurately convey what had happened, one of the people said. In fact, Harris’ details and many other Secret Service agents at the White House, as well as Harris, knew that her driver had actually hit the sidewalk of the tunnel.
A spokeswoman for the vice president said Harris thanked the Secret Service for everything it had done to keep her safe.
Kirsten Allen said in an emailed statement: “The Vice President was uninjured and thanked her USSS details for the swift response that brought her to the White House safely.”
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the driver overcorrected while steering, causing the accident. He said Harris was safe and delivered to the White House.
“During Monday’s protective movement, one of the vehicles in the convoy suffered a slight overcorrection and hit the curb,” he said. “The protected person was transferred to a second car and the convoy continued on its way to its destination. No one was hurt.”
He said the agents did not initially share the full details of the problems that caused the vice president’s motorcade in a formal written alert, but later briefed their superiors in person.
“Initial radio communications indicated it was a mechanical failure, which was communicated to agency leadership by those supporting the convoy movement,” he said. “Following the completion of the protective action, leadership has verbally updated other relevant facts about the vehicle hitting the side of the road.”
Guglielmi said Harris was not in danger because she was quickly moved to another vehicle and medics examined her at the White House to make sure she was not injured.
Monday night, Video of the Harris Team Blocking the tunnel – agents scrambled to get to Harris from the follow-up car – appeared on TikTok. The video appears to have been taken over the phone from a building overlooking Virginia Avenue.
The alert, which initially attributed the delay to a “mechanical failure,” was sent as part of a standard protocol for sharing information about safety developments or concerns about any official or family member protected by the White House or the Secret Service. The alerts are official documents sent by the agency’s Protective Intelligence Unit to senior officials’ calls and have been used in the past to warn them, for example, when someone is trying to jump over the White House fence, or when an agent changes one due to new concerns or threats. safety plan.
Cheatle, the second woman to lead the Secret Service, has been on the job for a month after President Biden appointed her as the new director in late August. According to a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity and shared internal discussions, she revealed to allies that she was disturbed by the inaccuracy of alerts related to the Harris accident, and was relieved after a more comprehensive statement later in the day. Sighed. A spokesperson declined to comment on the information Cheatle received or her response.
The Secret Service has a long and troubled history of covering up its mistakes and misconduct, with the most senior leaders and managers often relying on secrecy to cover the president’s security to cover up the agency’s weaknesses and failures.
The Secret Service misled the public and the First Family over the 2011 White House shooting, claiming it was a group of gang members who shot at each other when they learned the gunman was trying to kill President Barack Obama. In 2014, the service provided misinformation about a mentally ill veteran who was able to jump over the White House fence, reporting that he was unarmed at the time and was stopped at the door when he actually entered the depths of the mansion. In 2015, after a night of drinking at an agent’s retirement party, the top agent in charge of White House security drove to the White House grounds with another senior executive and passed a building that was closed due to an ongoing possible bomb investigation. area. Although dozens of Secret Service personnel were aware of the incident, no one reported it to the director at the time. Supervisor Joseph Clancy learned of the security breach from a former agent and friend.