By Mollie Reilly /The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 30: Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the White House perimeter breach during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building September 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pierson is giving an account of an incident involving a security breach at the White House after a man jumped the fence and was not subdued until after he had entered the mansion, deeper into the building than what it was previously| Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
Julia Pierson has resigned as director of the Secret Service, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a Wednesday statement. In the statement, Johnson said he would appoint Joseph Clancy as interim acting director.
During a White House briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had called Pierson to “express his appreciation for her service to the agency and the country.”
“The president concluded that new leadership of that agency was required,” Earnest said.
In an interview with Bloomberg News following her resignation, Pierson described the decision as “painful.”
“I think it’s in the best interest of the Secret Service and the American public if I step down,” Pierson said. “Congress has lost confidence in my ability to run the agency. The media has made it clear that this is what they expected. … It’s painful to leave as the agency is reeling from a significant security breach.”
Pierson came under fire after a number of Secret Service security breaches, including an armed man jumping over the White House fence and entering the executive mansion.
According to reports in the Washington Post, the man dashed through the unlocked front door of the White House and into the East Room while armed with a knife. He reportedly overpowered a Secret Service agent near the main foyer before eventually being tackled by an off-duty agent who was leaving work for the day.
After the Sept. 19 incident, several other security blunders came to light. An armed, ex-convict was allowed in an elevator with Obama during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month. And officers fumbled their response to a 2011 incident where a gunman fired at the White House residence.
On Tuesday, Pierson was grilled by members of the House Oversight Committee over the lapses. She said the recent intrusion was “unacceptable” and acknowledged the agency’s failures in following security protocol.
“I take full responsibility,” she said. “It will never happen again.”
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