Clancy had originally told investigators that he had not been aware that the Secret Service had turned down Chaffetz for a job as an agent, until he learned April 1 that the Washington Post was preparing to do a story about it. Clancy also originally said he didn’t know his staff was sharing this private information from a protected internal agency database — a violation of the law.
Earlier this month, Clancy contradicted statements he made to investigators, saying he now recalls more about the matter, according to two government officials briefed on the probe.
DHS Inspector General John Roth, who is investigating the Secret Service’s leak of Chaffetz’s private personal information, has taken a deeper look – going as far as to interview five former directors of the Secret Service and reinterview Clancy and two top deputies.
According to the investigative report, one former director, Julia Pierson, told investigators that Clancy was the person at the luncheon who brought up the information about a Chaffetz rumor going around the agency. Pierson, who resigned from her post last year amid a series of serious security breaches, said Clancy explained, “We’re looking into it.”
Another former director, Eljay Bowron, said he believed Clancy confirmed for the group that he and his staff were aware of a rumor about it.
Yet another, Brian Stafford, said Clancy discussed the rumor inside the agency and remarked: “I don’t know if it’s good or bad,” the report says. Clancy said he did not recall saying that.
Some recalled the conversation turning briefly to whether Chaffetz should recuse himself from investigating the Service if this information was true.
A sixth former director who was also present at the luncheon, John Magaw, declined to be interviewed by the Inspector General’s team, because his son is Deputy Director Craig Magaw and directly involved in the episode.
In a statement released Friday, a Secret Service spokesman said that Clancy had on his own initiative contacted investigators “to provide additional details he felt he may have overlooked.”
“The Director has been nothing but cooperative and completely transparent throughout this entire investigation,” the statement continued. “Out of a sense of pride for this agency and its employees, he felt it important to provide the IG with every detail, even knowing that doing this would create further scrutiny. His actions and willingness to admit a possible oversight are a testament to the men and women that serve under his agency, whom he also felt he should be transparent and honest with and whom he holds to the highest standards of personal integrity and professional capability.”
Clancy was first interviewed about the leak in July and said he knew nothing about the information that was spreading through his agency in the wake of a March 24 hearing that Chaffetz led. In that hearing, Chaffetz sharply criticized Clancy for failing to properly handle several security gaffes and cases of misconduct at the Service.
Investigators eventually found that 45 Secret Service staff accessed Chaffetz’s personnel file – starting just a few minutes after the March 24 hearing began, the initial investigation by Roth’s team found. At least 41 of them have been found to have accessed it in violation of privacy rules because they had no official purpose or job reason to access the file.
Roth’s investigative report – released last month – also said at least 18 supervisors knew that the private information was being shared internally and were doing nothing to investigate it further or report it to their bosses. The report highlighted two of Clancy’s right-hand men, Deputy Director Craig Magaw and former chief of staff Michael Biermann, for failing to alert the director to the strong likelihood that staff were violating Chaffetz’s privacy and in doing so breaking the law.
But Clancy revised his account on Sept. 30, just after Roth shared his draft report of the final findings. Clancy said his deputy director Magaw reminded the director that he had told Clancy about the information regarding Chaffetz’s application on March 25.
Roth’s report makes no conclusion about Clancy’s foggy memory or variations in what he said over time about what he could recollect about the agency’s most public critic.
“We are unable to reconcile Director Clancy’s Oct. 2 statement to investigators,” the new report says. “We do know that Director Clancy was provided this information from three different sources – Deputy Director Magaw, the former directors at the luncheon, and Deputy Assistant Director Biermann.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson praised Clancy’s leadership in a statement Friday. But in light of the revised account included in the watchdog report, Johnson said he will now take responsibility for deciding how to discipline and punish employees involved in obtaining Chaffetz’ information and supervisors who failed to do anything to address the widespread sharing of the material.
“In light of the matters reflected in the report and addendum, and in order to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, the Director of the Secret Service and I both agree that all decisions concerning accountability for these matters will be made by me,” Johnson said. “Over the past year the year since he returned to public service, he has made great strides in bringing about necessary changes to the organization… I am confident that Director Clancy will continue that good work and leadership.”
The Secret Service spokesman said in the statement that any employee who has committed misconduct will be held accountable. “The Secret Service will ensure that Secretary Johnson has the necessary information to make accountability decisions associated with this matter,” the spokesman said.
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of former Secret Service director Eljay Bowron. This version has been corrected.