Sunday 25 August 2019

Three Trump staff had 'improper contact with women on tour of Asia'

Donald Trump with Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte in Manila during the US president’s Asia tour
Donald Trump with Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte in Manila during the US president’s Asia tour

Rozina Sabur

Three White House employees have been removed from their posts amid allegations they had improper contact with foreign women during President Donald Trump's Asia tour.

The military personnel, who worked for a specialised unit providing the president with secure communications, are alleged to have broken a curfew during Mr Trump's trip to Vietnam earlier this month.

Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, confirmed that the allegations during the president's 12-day tour of Asia were "under investigation".

It will raise fears that this may be similar to a high-profile incident during Barack Obama's administration when 10 secret service agents were sacked for taking prostitutes back to their hotel rooms while the president was visiting Colombia.

The 2012 incident raised concerns that prostitutes had access to the agents' rooms and potentially sensitive information regarding Mr Obama's movements.

In this most recent incident, the men who worked for the White House Communications Agency, are thought to have been reassigned from their White House jobs while the allegations are investigated.

In August, four military personnel from the same agency faced allegations of improper behaviour during a trip to Panama with vice president Mike Pence.

The four men were accused of taking foreign women into a secure area while they were preparing for Mr Pence's arrival, and were forced to fly home early pending an investigation.

If found guilty they could lose their security clearance - or even face a court martial.

Mr Trump and Mr Pence's teams have not commented on the incidents and have referred requests for comment to the Pentagon.

The White House's Communications agency is part of the White House Military Office, a team of technical personnel which travels with the president on state visits to other countries.

The agency's role is to prevent eavesdropping on presidential communications and to ensure that White House officials can be securely reached worldwide at a moment's notice.

A significant number of its staff are assigned to White House duties for four-year stints.

Military personnel with high-level security clearances are supposed to report interactions with foreign individuals to ensure that there is no risk of national security being compromised.

Irish Independent

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