The Secret Service said Monday that its second-ranking official was resigning his post, a departure under pressure of one of the last remaining senior managers who had presided over a string of embarrassing security lapses in recent years.
The ouster of Deputy Director Alvin “A.T.” Smith, which followed pressure from lawmakers who have called for fresh leadership at the troubled agency, came three days before he was scheduled to testify before a House oversight committee.
Smith, who had overseen the Secret Service’s day-to-day operations for the past three years, was expected to be grilled about key decisions he made regarding spending cuts and officer training — some of the issues that have been cited as contributing to recent security mistakes.
Smith, 56, has been invited to transfer to another position in the Department of Homeland Security, according to an e-mail sent early Monday to Secret Service staff that also praised Smith’s 29 years of service to the agency.
“His contributions to the Agency have been invaluable,” the Secret Service’s acting director, Joseph P. Clancy, said in a statement.
Smith, who served as the No. 2 under the past three Secret Service directors, had until Monday survived the leadership shake-ups that cost Director Julia Pierson her job last fall and led to the forced removal and retirements of most of the agency’s senior management.
He was considered one of the few people with a deep understanding of the Secret Service’s highly specialized mission.
But the chairman and ranking Democrat of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), had shared with White House officials their strong preference that Smith not remain in the job, according to people briefed on the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters.
Chaffetz and Cummings applauded his departure in a joint statement, saying that they had met with White House and administration officials and “expressed our shared conviction that the Secret Service needs to turn the page with respect to its senior leadership.”
The lawmakers added that they would postpone a scheduled appearance before the committee this week by Clancy. The delay, they said, can help ensure that the acting director “is able to focus on bolstering the Secret Service’s core mission of protecting the President, his family, and numerous other officials and dignitaries.”
Clancy, meanwhile, is lobbying to become the agency’s permanent director and remains one of the White House’s contenders for the position, according to people familiar with the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.