Grill on the Hill: Secret Service Edition

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WHAT WE LEARNED: ABC's PIERRE THOMAS, MIKE LEVINE and JOHN PARKINSON reported yesterday that the man who broke into the White House two weeks ago was able to make his way far into the property before being tackled in the East Room - the room where President Obama and many other presidents have made some of their most important announcements, a law enforcement official confirmed to ABC News. The development calls into question the narrative originally released by the Secret Service, which had suggested that Omar Gonzalez, 42, of Texas, had been taken into custody near the front doors of the White House after jumping the fence and running more the 100 yards into the national landmark. Yesterday's revelations were first reported by The Washington Post.
  • WHAT WE'RE ASKING - ABC's JONATHAN KARL: Last Monday in the Oval Office, I asked President Obama about the White House intruder: "Do you still have confidence in the Secret Service?" The president replied: "The Secret Service does a great job, and I'm grateful for the sacrifices that they make on my behalf - and my family's behalf." Here's the question I am now asking the White House: Did the Secret Service mislead the President the way they mislead the public? When the President answered my question, did he know how far inside the White house the intruder got? Beyond the obvious reasons, these questions matter because the White House was referring all questions on this last week to the Secret Service. Did they know they were referring questions to an agency that was misleading the public? WATCH KARL and THOMAS' "Good Morning America" report on the latest developments:
  • WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY: Today, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will grill Secret Service Director Julia Pierson about the agency's repeated lapses. Here are seven questions lawmakers are likely to ask, courtesy of ABC's ERIN DOOLEY.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: Unleash the "senior intelligence officials." Also, the "American intelligence officials," and maybe some "administration intelligence officials," too. President Obama's decision to cast rhetorical blame on the intelligence community for miscalculating the ISIS threat, going so far as to name national intelligence director James Clapper in his "60 Minutes interview," is bringing out more than your typical congressional condemnation. It's bringing out, under cloaks of relative anonymity, the countless individuals spread throughout the intelligence agencies who were, in fact, warning of ISIS. Some of these warnings, as ABC's Jonathan Karl documented, were quite public. The interview has made simmering rivalries inside the administration public, at an inconvenient time for the White House. To cite one example: "Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn't pay attention to it," a "senior American intelligence official" told The New York Times. "They were preoccupied with other crises," the official added. "This just wasn't a big priority."


'AMERICAN IDOL' STAR CLAY AIKEN SINGS A DIFFERENT TUNE IN BID FOR CONGRESS. More than a decade after Clay Aiken made his singing debut on the stage of "American Idol," he is taking to the political stage, competing for a very different sort of title: U.S. Congressman. Running as a Democrat in North Carolina's 2ndDistrict, Aiken is making the case to voters that his voice is good for more than just singing. "What people don't recognize is that in the months and weeks following "American Idol," I worked to set up an organization for kids with disabilities, and for the last 11 years I've helped grow that organization from one that had programs in North Carolina to one that has programs in states across the country," Aiken told "The Fine Print's" JEFF ZELENY. In an effort to get voters to focus on him as a candidate rather than a singer, Aiken has put a stop on the singing - at least for now - as he travels across in his native North Carolina, where he faces an uphill battle as a Democrat running in a conservative district.



THREE TIMES OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WAS WARNED ABOUT ISIS. Did the intelligence community underestimate ISIS or did the president? In President Obama's "60 Minutes" interview, he seemed to put the blame on the intelligence community, saying, "I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria." At the White House daily briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest cast the net quite a bit wider. "Everybody was surprised to see the rapid advance that ISIL was able to make from Syria across the Iraqi border," said Earnest. "To be able to take over such large swaths of territory in Iraq did come as a surprise." But for nearly a year, senior officials in the U.S. government have been warning about the alarming rise of ISIS, or ISIL as the terrorist group is also known, and the inability of the Iraqi government to confront the threat. ABC's JONATHAN KARL takes a look at three examples.

WHAT AMERICA'S RICHEST MAN THINKS WE SHOULD DO ABOUT EBOLA. America's richest man has a plan to fight Ebola, and he isn't shy about trumpeting its greatest benefactor: the United States. In his first interview since donating $50 million to counter the quickly-expanding threat of Ebola in West Africa, Bill Gates outlined the obligations America has in shaping the institutions that will curb the crisis, ABC's NOAH WEILAND reports. He told an intimate audience at the Bank of America building in Washington, D.C., Monday that the Ebola outbreak is "a great example of where the world needs to come together." The $50 million pledge through his foundation is intended to "scale up" the fight, letting the money be released in "flexible funds" to United Nations agencies and global organizations that can purchase medical supplies and support facilities treating the outbreak. Gates also cited the expertise of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as evidence of America's responsibility to step in and help. He referred to America's ability to counteract health crises as "the best in the world." "The U.S. is the leader in being able to move into areas like this," he said.

COLLEGE LAUGHING GAS TALE 'A LONG TIME AGO' FOR RAND PAUL. Rand Paul has never been shy about voicing his disapproval of America's war on drugs. And a new profile in the New Yorker, which traces Paul's life from childhood to potential 2016 presidential contender, details a time when the Kentucky senator reportedly engaged in a little drug use of his own, ABC's KIRSTEN APPLETON reports. One of Rand Paul's classmates at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, told the New Yorker that he once obtained tanks of nitrous oxide from a friend studying dentistry. Another colleague added that the three of them then attached a scuba mask directly to the tank and got high on laughing gas. "College was a long time ago," Paul, 51, said in a statement to the New Yorker without clarifying whether the incident actually happened. "The high jinks reported by others make my college experience sound way more adventuresome than it actually was."

WHY MITT ROMNEY, BARBRA STREISAND AND KARL ROVE KEEP EMAILING YOU. You've been getting a lot of emails, so I'll make this quick: These past few days Mitt Romney has been flooding inboxes with emails that begin exactly like the sentence above. The chances you've received an email from Mitt Romney are high if you have subscribed to any Republican political e-mail list. So why has the former GOP presidential nominee been personally reaching out? The inbox barrage is all part of an effort to boost campaign, party and committee donations before today's deadline. Sept. 30 marks the Federal Election Committee's final quarter report - the fundraising cutoff for campaigns to tout their fundraising prowess before the November election. Mitt Romney has sent three emails out so far for the National Republican Congressional Committee. And Daniel Scarpinato, the group's national press secretary, told ABC News that Romney has been effective in raising money, raking in more contributions than anyone else emailing the same list. But Romney isn't the only one sending email. A big contributor to Democratic candidates, actress and singer Barbra Streisand recently hit up in-boxes to support New Hampshire incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The subject line read, "I'm asking for a favor."


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