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Trump picks retired Marine general to lead Secret Service

President Trump praised the Secret Service for apprehending a man who got onto the White House grounds after climbing a fence. (Video: The Washington Post)

The White House announced Tuesday that Randolph D. “Tex” Alles, a senior customs official and retired Marine Corps general, would take over the U.S. Secret Service, becoming the agency's 25th director.

Alles spent 35 years in the Marines before retiring in 2011, according to the White House. He comes to the Secret Service after serving in several roles with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, most recently being appointed acting deputy commissioner on Jan. 20, the day President Trump took office. Alles has also led the Air and Marine Operations division of the customs agency, which has more than 1,000 agents, according to the agency's website.

The appointment comes as the Secret Service has faced criticism over a breach at the White House complex. A man recently scaled a fence and roamed the White House grounds for nearly 17 minutes before he was arrested. The Secret Service last week restricted public access to the sidewalk along the White House's southern fence-line. Officials did not attribute that move to the most recent fence-jumper, although they said it could help prevent similar episodes in the future.

Alles comes to the Secret Service as the agency is undergoing a review of security around the White House complex and is straining to respond to the logistical difficulties of protecting the Trump family. In addition to the president, who frequently flies between Washington and South Florida, the first lady and their 11-year-old son live at a private residence in New York, while Trump's grown adult children have business interests that take them around the world.

The Secret Service has asked for $60 million in additional funding for next year, nearly half of it to protect the Trump family's private home in New York, according to internal agency documents that The Washington Post reviewed.

Secret Service restricts public access to southern fence of White House after recent intruder

“I applaud the Trump administration and Secretary Kelly for choosing someone from outside the agency who is well qualified to lead the Secret Service," Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. "General Alles is being called upon to use all his command and managerial skills to address the cultural and operational issues currently facing the Service. I look forward to working with General Alles to help him succeed in his new role."

Earlier this year, Joseph P. Clancy announced his plans to step down from his post running the Secret Service, which he took over in 2014 during a period of crisis. The longtime Secret Service veteran was picked by then-President Barack Obama to take over after a series of major security breaches and embarrassing lapses, including a slow response to a gunman who fired at the White House in 2011 and another man who was able to enter the executive mansion.

Clancy guided the 151-year-old agency through that period and during the intense 2016 presidential campaign, and his decision to step aside allowed Trump to pick his own director.

William J. Callahan, a Secret Service veteran who has been acting director since Clancy stepped down, returned to his position as the agency's deputy director after Alles was named.

Alles becomes the newest general — and the latest Marine — to serve in the Trump administration. Trump selected retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis to be his defense secretary, then asked retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to take over the Department of Homeland Security.

The president had also named Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, as his national security adviser, but Flynn resigned this year after his potentially illegal contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States became public. To replace him, Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who served as acting national security adviser until McMaster was picked, is the National Security Council's chief of staff.

The Secret Service director does not need to be confirmed by the Senate.

This story has been updated to include Johnson's comment.

Further reading: 

Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense

Secret Service asked for $60 million extra for Trump-era travel and protection, documents show

After fence-jumping incident, lawmakers are counting on Homeland Security chief to clean up Secret Service