The White House is seeking to belittle suggestions that White House officials should be probed to discover whether they brought prostitutes to their rooms or participated in any way in the prostitution scandal enveloping Secret Service agents and military service members who did advance work for President Obama’s trip to Cartegena, Colombia.
White House officials were part of the advance team that scouted out Obama’s travel to the Colombian city.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Friday pushed back hard against the idea of an internal investigation, saying he had “no reason to believe” White House aides did anything wrong. Asked if there was any double-checking to make sure, Carney bristled at what he repeatedly called “rumors,” saying:
What I’m not going to do, as I said yesterday, is give a play-by-play or speculate about every rumor that you may have heard from either anonymous sources or just the Internet.
Carney did not rule out, though, that there had been “discussion” between the White House and the Secret Service about White House officials, saying, “I’m sure the discussion and the briefing covers a variety of subjects, a variety of both facts and rumors.”
But two senior senators have now called for an investigation into whether White House officials were involved.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) Friday sent a letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and Homeland Security Department Inspector General Charles Edwards demanding to know if the hotel records of White House employees who were on the ground in Cartegena are being reviewed.
And Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) Sunday called on the White House to conduct its own “review of all White House personnel, advance teams and the rest” who were in Cartegena.
Growing calls for an investigation of whether White House personnel were involved could put the spotlight on one of President Obama’s closest aides, White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson.
There is no public evidence Nicholson or any White House aides did anything wrong or made any mistakes.
But it is unclear why the White House would not take an intense interest in whether White House officials either participated in the illicit activity or whether they knew that Secret Service members were misbehaving but failed to report it to their White House superiors. The possibility that a White House employee or information they possess could be compromised by a prostitute or a foreign agent posing as a prostitute would be a grave matter.
Nicholson is personally close to the president, regularly playing golf with him – most recently on Saturday as part of a group that included Vice President Biden and another White House staffer. Obama likes Nicholson so much he has even invited his brother Walter along to play on several occasions.