The Colombian prostitutes entangled in the Secret Service sex scandal could have been Russian spies, Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested Tuesday.
“We’re looking at something that is very, very serious when national security might not be protected properly,” Grassley told Radio Iowa. “Who knows who might be using prostitutes? The Russians are famous for that to get information out of us.”
In a letter last night, the Iowa Republican called on the White House to answer questions about an internal review that cleared the advance team of any involvement in the scandal. Secret Service agents and military personnel are accused of bringing prostitutes back to their hotel before President Barack Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month.
“You find a lot of problems come from a culture within the agency,” Grassley said on Radio Iowa. “Now, I don’t think the Secret Service would have that sort of a culture, but this may be the tip of an iceberg.”
This is less about prostitution than the president’s safety, he added.
“The issue here isn’t just people messing around with prostitutes, the issue is the security of the president of the United States and the issue is any national security implications that it might have because of the secrecy and the documents and things of that nature,” Grassley said.
Obama administration officials say the arrest of 11 people accused of being part of a Russian spy ring is a mere bump in the road to better relations with America's former Cold War foe.
The White House and the State Department both downplayed the implications of the blockbuster investigation, which revealed an elaborate Russian intelligence plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that President Obama had been briefed a "number of times" before the arrests and was "fully and appropriately informed" of the investigation.
He said Obama knew about it even before he took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev out to a Virginia burger joint last Thursday.
Beyond that, Gibbs said the president has no "personal reaction" to the case and that the arrests should not hurt the administration's attempts to mend fences with Moscow.
White House Downplays Russian Spy Plot, Says Obama Knew Before Medvedev Visit