Biden sends two Secret Service agents home early from South Korea trip

An agent and armed physical security specialist allegedly got into a drunken fight with a taxi driver

Rachel Sharp
Friday 20 May 2022 15:24
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Biden begins Asia tour in South Korea, under shadow of North's nukes

Two Secret Service agents are being sent home from Joe Biden’s South Korea visit after they allegedly got into a drunken fight with a taxi driver one night before the president’s arrival.

Two sources told ABC that the employees, who have not been named but are identified as an agent and an armed physical security specialist, were on assignment in the country to help prepare for the president’s first visit to Asia.

The agents went out for dinner before going on to several bars, where they got drunk, according to the sources.

At one point, the agent allegedly got into a heated argument with a taxi driver and police were called to the scene.

A police report detailing an “altercation” has been filed over the incident and the agent will be interviewed by local police in South Korea before they can return to the US, the sources said.

Seoul Police told Reuters that officers had arrested a member of the president’s advance security team for allegedly drunkenly assaulting a South Korean citizen outside the hotel where Mr Biden was expected to stay during his visit.

A Secret Service spokesperson confirmed to ABC that there had been an “off-duty incident” involving two its employees that “may constitute potential policy violations”.

The agents will be “immediately” sent back to the US and placed on administrative leave, the spokesperson said.

The decision to send the two Secret Service staffers home was made by the agency prior to the president touching down in Asia.

The spokesperson insisted that the incident will not disrupt the president’s visit or impact his security while there.

“There was no impact to the upcoming trip. We have very strict protocols and policies for all employees and we hold ourselves to the highest professional standards,” the statement said.

“Given this is an active administrative personnel matter, we are not in a position to comment further.”

The incident comes 10 years after an infamous prostitution scandal involving more than a dozen Secret Service agents who were on assignment to Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of then-President Barack Obama’s visit in 2012.

In April 2012, 13 agents were allegedly embroiled in a wild night of partying with a group of prostitutes at a hotel, just two days before the president’s arrival.

A probe was launched into the incident which resulted in six agents being fired and several others facing discipline.

The scandal overshadowed Mr Obama’s visit and embarrassed both the agency and the White House.

The latest scandal comes amid warnings that North Korea may conduct a missile test during Mr Biden’s visit to the neighbouring country.

Mr Biden landed at the US military’s Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on Friday morning and headed straight to the nearby Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant to meet South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

The two leaders, who have never met in person before, toured the largest semiconductor plant in the world as they spoke about renewing an “economic and security alliance” between the two nations.

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