Secret Service Director Randolph Alles may be on the way out of the Trump administration, but not before Chuck Schumer tries to get the low-down on potential security lapses at Mar-a-Lago resort.
On Monday, the Trump administration announced that Alles would be ousted from his position, part of a larger purge that included the ousting of Department of Homeland Security director Kirstjen Nielsen. Schumer announced later on Monday that he wants to hear from Alles about “counterintelligence and national security threats,” including at Mar-a-Lago.
“The outgoing Secret Service director must testify before Congress as soon as possible about the potential security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago involving a Chinese national arrested with malware, and other counterintelligence and national security threats,” Schumer announced, via Talking Points Memo.
“The public and Congress need to know the extent to which adversarial governments – like China – and their agents are attempting to gain access to, or conduct electronic surveillance on, conversations or other information regarding national security at President Trump’s properties.”
There have been a series of reports calling into question the security practices at Mar-a-Lago. Last week, Secret Service announced the arrest of a Chinese national who was on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago carrying a device that contained computer malware. While the woman was not able to make it past security, it called into question the lax practices at the resort.
Salon writer Fred Kaplan called the resort a “spy’s dream come true,” noting that it is likely that other foreign spies have tried to exploit the lax security practices. Mar-a-Lago lacks the security provisions of the White House and other official destinations like Camp David, but Trump has not cut back on visits and still travels to the resort almost weekly while the location is open outside of the summer months.
After the arrest of the Chinese national, the Secret Service made it clear that Trump’s team had the final say of who was allowed into the resort.
There have been other security concerns, including reports that Trump overruled the recommendations of security experts to grant security clearances to members of the administration, including son-in-law Jared Kushner. A New York Times report also noted that both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used the private messaging service WhatsApp for communications despite warnings from security professionals that it is vulnerable to hacking.
Even before Chuck Schumer called on the former Secret Service director to testify, other congressional Democrats had called for an FBI investigation into the potential lapses.