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Secret Service Director Resigns        07/23 10:01

   The director of the Secret Service said Tuesday she is resigning following 
the assassination attempt against former President Donald Trump that unleashed 
intensifying outcry about how the agency tasked with protecting current and 
former presidents could fail in its core mission.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The director of the Secret Service said Tuesday she is 
resigning following the assassination attempt against former President Donald 
Trump that unleashed intensifying outcry about how the agency tasked with 
protecting current and former presidents could fail in its core mission.

   Kimberly Cheatle, who had served as Secret Service director since August 
2022, had been facing growing calls to resign and several investigations into 
how the shooter was able to get so close to the Republican presidential nominee 
at an outdoor campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

   "I take full responsibility for the security lapse," she said in an email to 
staff, obtained by The Associated Press. "In light of recent events, it is with 
a heavy heart that I have made the difficult decision to step down as your 
director."

   Cheatle's departure was unlikely to end the scrutiny of the long-troubled 
agency after the failures of July 13, and it comes at a critical juncture ahead 
of the Democratic National Convention and a busy presidential campaign season. 
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have promised continued investigation, 
along with an inspector general probe and an independent and bipartisan effort 
launched at President Joe Biden's behest that will keep the agency in the 
spotlight.

   "The scrutiny over the last week has been intense and will continue to 
remain as our operational tempo increases," Cheatle said in her note to staff.

   Cheatle's resignation comes a day after appeared before a congressional 
committee and was berated by hours by both Democrats and Republicans for the 
security failures. She called the attempt on Trump's life the Secret Service's 
"most significant operational failure" in decades and said she took full 
responsibility for the security lapses, but she angered lawmakers by failing to 
answer specific questions about the investigation.

   At the hearing Monday, Cheatle remained defiant that she was the "right 
person" to lead the Secret Service, even as she said she took responsibility 
the security failures. When Republican Rep. Nancy Mace suggested Cheatle begin 
drafting her resignation letter from the hearing room, Cheatle responded, "No, 
thank you."

   The 20-year-old shooter, Thomas Matthew Crooks, was able to get within 135 
meters (157 yards) of the stage where the former president was speaking when he 
opened fire. That's despite a threat on Trump's life from Iran leading to 
additional security for the former president in the days before the July 13 
rally.

   Cheatle acknowledged Monday that the Secret Service was told about a 
suspicious person two to five times before the shooting at the rally. She also 
revealed that the roof from which Crooks opened fire had been identified as a 
potential vulnerability days before the rally. But she failed to answer many 
questions about what happened, including why there no agents stationed on the 
roof.

   A bloodied Trump was quickly escorted off the stage by Secret Service 
agents, and agency snipers killed the shooter. Trump said the upper part of his 
right ear was pierced in the shooting. One rallygoer was killed, and two others 
were critically wounded.

   "The assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump on July 13th is 
the most significant operational failure at the Secret Service in decades," 
Cheatle told members of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. "As 
the Director of the United States Secret Service, I take full responsibility 
for any security lapse."

   Details continue to unfold about signs of trouble that day and what role 
both the Secret Service and local authorities played in security. The agency 
routinely relies on local law enforcement to secure the perimeter of events 
where people it is protecting appear. Former top Secret Service agents said the 
gunman should never have been allowed to gain access to the roof.

   Two days after the shooting, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 
said he supported Cheatle "100%."

   But there were calls for accountability across the political spectrum, with 
congressional committees immediately moving to investigate, issuing a subpoena 
to testify and the top Republican leaders from both the House and the Senate 
saying she should step down. President Joe Biden also has ordered an 
independent review into security at the rally and the Secret Service's 
inspector general opened an investigation. The agency is also reviewing its 
counter sniper team's "preparedness and operations."

   In an interview with ABC News two days after the shooting, Cheatle said she 
wasn't resigning. She called the shooting "unacceptable" and something that no 
Secret Service agent wants to happen. She said her agency is responsible for 
the former president's protection: "The buck stops with me. I am the director 
of the Secret Service."

   Cheatle served in the Secret Service for 27 years. She left in 2021 for a 
job as a security executive at PepsiCo before Biden asked her to return in 2022 
to head the agency with a workforce of 7,800 special agents, uniformed officers 
and other staff.

   She took over amid a controversy over missing text messages from around the 
time thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

   During her time in the agency, Cheatle was the first woman to be named 
assistant director of protective operations, the division that provides 
protection to the president and other dignitaries where she oversaw a $133.5 
million budget. She is the second woman to lead the agency overall.

   When he announced her appointment, Biden said Cheatle had served on his 
detail when he was vice president and he and his wife "came to trust her 
judgment and counsel."

 
 
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