The Corner

New Secret Service Scandal Report Casts Shadow on Two Potential Eric Holder Replacements

If President Obama nominates former White House general counsel Kathryn Ruemmler or former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, you can expect to hear a lot about the Secret Service prostitution scandal at the confirmation hearings.

“[S]enior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged,” the Washington Post reports. “The Secret Service shared its findings twice in the weeks after the scandal with top White House officials, including then-White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. Each time, she and other presidential aides conducted an interview with the advance-team member and concluded that he had done nothing wrong.”

David Nieland, the lead DHS inspector general’s investigator on the scandal, says he was ordered “to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election.”

The Post report casts a shadow on Napolitano. “[Nieland] later told Senate staffers that his superiors demanded that he remove from an official report references to the evidence pointing to the White House team member,” the report says. “Nieland said the instructions came less than 24 hours after his superiors said Edwards had briefed then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the potential involvement of the White House team member, according to documents reviewed by The Post.”

A Napolitano spokesman told the Post that she did not give such an order.

Both Ruemmler and Napolitano have been floated as potential nominees to be the next attorney general. Obama praised Ruemmler, when she left the White House, for “her uncanny ability to see around the corners that nobody else anticipates.”

Napolitano’s past interest in the top Justice Department job is no secret. “Sometimes I feel like Janet is touching me just to see if I’m still warm,” Holder once joked, per Politico.

A friend, though, suggested that she wouldn’t leave the University of California, where she is now president.

“She loves her job,” said Andrew Gordon, who served with Napolitano at DHS. “She finds it very challenging. She finds it really interesting. I haven’t spoken to her, but I would be very surprised.”

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