Reports of a one-vehicle collision on a closed road involving Vice President Kamala Harris has raised questions about her safety and the Secret Service’s integrity.
A Secret Service agent driving Harris to work in an SUV hit the curb of a downtown tunnel requiring the vehicle’s tire to be replaced. However, agents failed to relay key details of the incident to superiors and initially reported it as “a mechanical failure,” The Washington Post reports.
The paper reports that the discrepancy has reignited concerns over the agency’s history of hiding errors. Some also question the Secret Service’s motive for holding back details of the incident.
The accident led the vice president to be transferred to another vehicle in the motorcade. The move was captured on cellphone video from someone seemingly in a nearby building. It has been shared thousands of times on social media.
“Is this another “Diana” story?” One online user commented.
A source with insider information about the incident told the Post that the routine nature of the trip and the training requirements for the agents sparked questions about how it could have happened.
By evening time, Secret Service Director Kim Cheatle received information that the agency’s protective intelligence division did not accurately report what occurred. Although reports show several other agents and Harris knew the driver actually hit the pavement.
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the driver overcorrected when steering, causing the collision. Harris was unharmed and arrived safely at the White House.
“During a protective movement Monday, a vehicle in a motorcade had a minor overcorrection and struck a curb,” he said. “The protectee was transferred to a secondary vehicle, and the motorcade continued to its destination. There were no injuries to anyone.”
Guglielmi said the agents in the motorcade did not disclose the full details of the incident through the Service’s formal alert system but told leadership in person.
“Initial radio traffic indicated this was a mechanical failure, and that was communicated to agency leadership by personnel supporting the motorcade movement,” he said. “After the protective movement was completed, leadership was verbally updated with additional pertinent facts that the vehicle struck a curb.”
The service spokesperson said the vice president was not a risk and was examined by medical personnel when she arrived at the White House. However, some Twitter users said the ordeal sounds suspicious.
“Think it is time for Her to hire her own security detail. Something isn’t right,” Amy Hammer wrote. “There is too much risk for her to trust anyone within the secret service. Get a new team.”
There is also speculation among online users that the driver was under the influence.
Reports show that Cheatle, who took leadership over the agency in late August, was troubled by the inaccurate report. The alerts are official documents the Service’s protective intelligence division sends to top officials. Still, a White House spokesperson said Harris has “an immense amount of gratitude” for her Secret Service detail.
“The Vice President sustained no injuries and appreciates the quick response by her USSS detail to get her to the White House safely,” Kirsten Allen said in an emailed statement.
Still, Service agents have made headlines in recent months for other missteps and misconduct.
In May, two Secret Service agents were involved in an altercation in South Korea with two nationals. Four agents were suspended for being fooled by two men impersonating U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents in April.
The agency has also covered up several mistakes over the last decade. After a night of partying, the most senior agent in charge of White House security drove with another supervisor onto its grounds through an area that was blocked off for a bomb investigation. No one told the agency director about the incident.
In 2014, the agency said a man who scaled the White House fence was unarmed and was stopped at the door. However, the mentally troubled veteran was armed and made it deep inside the White House, reports show.
The Service told the public that a shooting at the White House in 2011 was gang-related when the gunman was actually attempting to shoot former President Barrack Obama.
Harris has reportedly received death threats within months of starting the vice presidency. Federal authorities arrested a Miami nurse Niviane Petit Phelps in April 2021 for allegedly making a series of videos expressing a desire to kill Harris.
Federal investigators said Phelps applied for a weapons permit and started practicing shooting at a gun range. In March 2021, a Texas man was arrested outside of Harris’ official residence with an “AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, 113 rounds of unregistered ammunition, and five 30 round magazines.”