The president wasn't in danger, but here's why this is so serious. These women, potentially prostitutes, were brought back to the agents' hotel, a secure area, and also the agents compromised themselves to potential blackmail. George, one key going forward: They need to know if this kind of reckless, some would say juvenile behavior has ever happened before.
The focus is supposed to be singular, protecting the president. If these allegations are true, it's safe to say these agents and officers may find their careers in the Secret Service over, period, end of story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that. And investigations continue today both by the Secret Service and the Congress. Thanks, Pierre.
Now to the economy, right at the heart of this already-hot presidential campaign, with our headliner, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Good morning, Mr. Geithner.
GEITHNER: Nice to see you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good to see you.
You know, I want to begin with a pretty startling number in our ABC News-"Washington Post" poll this week. It shows that 76 percent of the country thinks we're still in a recession. What do you say to those Americans?
GEITHNER: Well, it's obviously still a very tough economy out there. And I think it's not surprising, given the scale of the damage the crisis caused and how much damage you still see out there.
But if you look at the evidence, the economy is getting stronger. We have a ways to go still, a lot of challenges still ahead. But the broad indicators are pretty encouraging. They show an economy still growing. We'd like it to be stronger, and we've got a lot of work to do. But getting better.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But last month's job report was much weaker than people had hoped for, only about 121,000 jobs created, and the weekly unemployment claims took a big jump last week. Are we seeing the pattern of the past couple of years repeated, a strong start to the year, but then a stall-out in the spring?
GEITHNER: Can't tell yet, but if you look back at what happened in 2010 and 2011, you're right that you saw some early strength in the beginning of the year. But then what happened was, the crisis in Europe in 2010 and 2011 and then the crisis in Japan and then the oil shock caused growth to slow. And then in '11, it was made worse by the -- by all the political drama around the debt limit, which was very damaging to confidence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying we can't...
GEITHNER: But those...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... we can't tell yet. So -- but does that mean you're not confident that we're going to keep creating jobs this year?
GEITHNER: No. I would say that, you know, the economy, again, is gradually getting stronger and you get more people going back to work, and those are sort of good, encouraging signs. Obviously, we have a lot of challenges ahead and some risks and uncertainty ahead. And some of those risks are, of course, Europe's still going through a -- a difficult crisis. And Iran and oil still pose some risks to us.
But the available evidence is still, I think, pretty encouraging.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you expect that unemployment will be lower today -- lower on Election Day than it is today?
GEITHNER: If the economy keeps growing at a moderate pace, then, yes, the -- more people will be back to work and you should see a gradual reduction in the unemployment rate.