Is Pres. Obama Safe? Rep. Elijah Cummings Discusses The Secret Service Scandal, Ted Nugent Comments (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

Is Pres. Obama Safe? Rep. Elijah Cummings Discusses The Secret Service Scandal, Ted Nugent Comments (VIDEO)

The story reads like something out of out of a military thriller. Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to prepare for the President’s visit get involved in a financial dispute with a high-priced prostitute at their hotel. The result: at least three agents lose their jobs, and eight others remain under investigation. As many as ten military personnel on the same trip are also under investigation.

But, this isn’t fiction. It’s real life, and it raises the question, “Is Pres. Obama safe?” It’s not a new question. Many people have been asking it since America elected the first African-American President, and the heightened racial climate of the last three years doesn’t make us feel more secure.

Maryland Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings joined Roland Martin on the set of Washington Watch to discuss the Secret Service prostitution scandal and Ted Nugent’s comments about President Barack Obama.

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome to “Washington Watch.”

The story reads like something out of out of a military thriller.  Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to prepare for the President’s visit get involved in a financial dispute with a high-priced prostitute at their hotel.  The result:  at least three agents lose their jobs, and eight others remain under investigation.  As many as ten military personnel on the same trip are also under investigation.

But, this isn’t fiction.  It’s real life, and it raises the question, “Is Pres. Obama safe?”  It’s not a new question.  Many people have been asking it since America elected the first African-American President, and the heightened racial climate of the last three years doesn’t make us feel more secure.

Here to talk about that and more is the ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Maryland Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings.

Congressman, welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS:  It’s good to be with you.

MR. MARTIN:  When this story first broke, [you] had lots of folks on Twitter and Facebook, the social media say, “Look, it’s no big deal.  The President – he was always safe.”  But I explained to them that the advance team is just as important as the personal protective detail.

REP. CUMMINGS:  No doubt about it.  The advance team is extremely important because these are the people who make sure that the plans are laid out with regard to snipers and protecting the President in all ki- — and just they – they basically do a lot of the planning stuff before the President hits the ground.  When he hits the ground, it’s show time.  So, a lot of the planning has to be done long before he gets there.

MR. MARTIN:  As you have been going through this investigation, what really stands out the most?

REP. CUMMINGS:  The idea that these folks would get drunk and then spend time with ladies of the night – some say they didn’t know they were prostitutes, but the fact is – and then would spend the night in, of all places, Colombia.  Now, I don’t know if you’ve been to Colombia, but when we usually go to Colombia, we travel with maybe as many as 20 guards – military.  And the reason being that Colombia has had a relationship with the United States where we’ve helped them with narcotics – getting rid of narcotics.  So, you[’ve] got the FARC.  You[’ve] got prob- — people that really don’t like us, and so you really want to be extra careful there.  But you need to be very careful no matter where you are, but particularly in a country like Colombia.

MR. MARTIN:  We’ve heard reports of agents bragging about protecting the President, and people have come up with all kind[s] of different things, but the reality is these agents are in a sensitive position.  And also, they were staying at the same hotel where all the other folks will be staying at as well, and so that poses an issue because, typically, the Secret Service is about locking down a hotel, ensuring total safety for the President.

REP. CUMMINGS:  That’s exactly right, although this wasn’t the same hotel the President was staying in.  The idea that these folks had that kind of access to the people who are responsible for the safety of the President is very interesting.  You think about somebody – a woman spending the night, Roland, with an agent who is drunk.  You know, all kinds of things might happen there, and – and that’s one of the things that we’re concerned about.

Now, I’ve told a lot of people the reason why the Secret Service is so ef- — one of the reasons why it’s so effective is because they have the reputation as being the elite, one of the best in the world with –

MR. MARTIN:  And high –

REP. CUMMINGS:  — regard to – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — standards.

REP. CUMMINGS:  — that’s right.  That by – in and of itself is significant.  And then, of course, you want to make sure that the reputation matches the reality.

But when something like this happens, I think it’s very damaging, and I can tell you when I met with the director – Director Sullivan, he was extremely upset.  I mean visibly upset.

MR. MARTIN:  How important is it for folks to also understand that this is not about pushback against the President, because Sullivan was appointed by Pres. –

REP. CUMMINGS:  President Bush –

MR. MARTIN:  — George W. Bush?

REP. CUMMINGS:  — in 2006.

MR. MARTIN:  And so when you hear people try to make this out to be a partisan issue, how do you respond to that?

REP. CUMMINGS:  I am – I’m – I’m very upset that they would do that.  It’s not about a partisan issue.  The fact is – is that the Secret Service, they’re – they’re guarding Republicans and Democrats.  You know that they’re – they’re guarding Romney right now.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

REP. CUMMINGS:  [Chuckles.]  So, they have a responsibility not to the Democrats, not to the Republica- — Republicans, but to all of us.  And so we see them as a nonpartisan organization, and they have that reputation.  If they didn’t have that reputation, there would be a lack of trust, and we do trust them – very much.

MR. MARTIN:  Also, as we’re moving forward, obviously, the Secret Service – they are leading their own investigation.

REP. CUMMINGS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  Congress has a different responsibility as well.

REP. CUMMINGS:  Yes.

MR. MARTIN:  And so how – how deep do you plan, with the committee, to delve into the Secret Service, because people say, “Look.  If this happened one time, surely it wasn’t the first time”?

REP. CUMMINGS:  Yeah, we – we have – we are going to be looking over their shoulders for the time being, but we have already written – Chairman Issa and I have already written to Sullivan and said, “Look.  We want to know how many times has this happened before.  We want the background of these agents.  We want details as to what happened.  We want to know what your rules and regulations are with regard to this type of activity.  We want to know how’re you going to guarantee that” – “that it doesn’t happen again.”  “One thing that we really want to know [is], how are you going to restore the trust of the American people and the trust of this Congress – but the trust of the President and the Vice President and others that you have to guard?”  That’s very important.

MR. MARTIN:  Before we go, I want to get your thoughts about the comments Ted Nugent made.  The Secret Service met with him this week regarding these comments.

[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP.]

MR. TED NUGENT:  ’Cause I’ll tell you this right now.  If – if Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.  We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November!”

[END OF VIDEO.]

REP. CUMMINGS:  That’s the kind of language we do not need – particularly at the National Rifle Association, and I – and I’m surprised.  I am shocked, as a matter of fact, that Romney did not say to this supporter of his, “Look.  You[’ve] got to cut that out, and, “I’m” – “I’m against it.”  But he didn’t do that, you know.

MR. MARTIN:  I mean his – his statement, frankly, was very weak.  It came through Andrea Saul, his press secretary, simply saying, “We don’t need divisive language in this country.”  It was very broad.  Frankly, I thought it was weak as a wet sheet of paper.

REP. CUMMINGS:  Right.  I agree with you, and somebody who wants to be the President of the United States – they ought to denounce that kind of language with the strongest words that they can co- — that can – can come out of their mouths.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, Cong. Cummings, we’re certainly glad to have you on the show, and –

REP. CUMMINGS:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  — we look forward to seeing what happens with the investigation.

REP. CUMMINGS:  All right.  Look[?] for[?]  it.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Thanks a bunch.

REP. CUMMINGS:  All righty.