Secret Service probes how intruder got into top Biden national security official’s house

The U.S. Secret Service has launched an investigation into how an intruder made his way into the home of President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, in the middle of the night without his Secret Service protective detail knowing about it.

The incident occurred about two weeks ago at Sullivan’s West End home while several Secret Service agents were standing guard outside, according to a Secret Service official. The incident is the latest in a string of embarrassing episodes that raise questions about the competence of the agency whose mission is to protect the President and an assortment of other prominent U.S. officials here in the U.S. and while traveling overseas.

The man, who the Secret Service did not identify, apparently walked in through an open door at about 3 a.m., leading to a confrontation with Sullivan, the Secret Service official said. The incident was first reported by The Washington Post.

The individual left after Sullivan told him to get out, according to the Secret Service official, who spoke to USA TODAY on the condition of anonymity to discuss the incident. That official said the agents were unaware of the intruder until Sullivan came out and told them about him.

More: Secret Service fights to shed politics, but Trump’s indictment, 2024 election are major tests

The intruder appeared to be intoxicated and confused about where he was, and whose house he had entered, said the official, adding that there were no immediate indications that the individual knew or sought to harm Sullivan.

“We have launched a mission assurance investigation to examine how this occurred with a security detail stationed outside,” the official said.

“While the protectee was unharmed, we are taking this matter seriously and have opened a comprehensive mission assurance investigation to review all facets of what occurred,” the Secret Service said in a statement issued to USA TODAY in response to questions. “Any deviation from our protective protocols is unacceptable and if discovered, personnel will be held accountable.”

The Secret Service also said that “modifications to the protective posture have also been made to ensure additional security layers are in place as we conduct this comprehensive review.”

According to Secret Service protocol, anyone caught trespassing on the property of one of its protectees would be questions and likely detained, arrested and charged. The Secret Service official said the intruder had already left the scene by the time Sullivan alerted agents to his presence in his home.

Sullivan, who advises Biden on a broad array of pressing security issues including the war in Ukraine, was unhurt. The White House referred calls seeking comment to the Secret Service.

But the incident raised troubling questions, again, about the Secret Service’s ability to protect those under its watch.

The agency has come under scrutiny for how it handled the Jan. 6 attempted coup at the Capitol, with critics saying it – like other federal agencies — failed to adequately anticipate the threat from pro-Trump supporters who had gathered in the city.

Questions have also been raised about the agency’s actions taken to protect then-Vice President Mike Pence, including whether there were provisions to remove him from the Capitol that would have resulted in blocking him from carrying out the certification of Biden’s election.

“There was no nefarious intent to have anything stopped that day. Our folks, again, did their job,” new Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle told USA TODAY in a recent interview.

The recent intrusion also comes at a time when at least one U.S. adversary, Iran, has shown heightened interest in targeting top national security officials even at their own homes in the Washington area.

U.S. authorities have warned for more than a decade that Iran, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has been sending operatives into the USA to plot terror attacks, killings and assassinations.

More recently, the FBI uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate John Bolton, a then-retired former national security advisor to Donald Trump.

Last August, the Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Bolton, allegedly as retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran commander Qasem Soleimani in 2020 in Baghdad.

Following that incident, the Secret Service opted to extend full-time protective details to Sullivan, and both of Trump’s national security advisors, Bolton and Robert O’Brien, who served until the end of Trump’s term in January 2021.

Since then, agents have been stationed outside Sullivan’s home around the clock when he is in town, according to the Secret Service official.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Secret Service probes intruder at Biden national security advisor home

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