President Joe Biden’s trip to South Korea started off on the wrong foot after two US Secret Service agents were sent home after being involved in an off-duty incident with a cab driver.
A Secret Service agent and an “armed physical security specialist” have been dispatched back to the United States after an alleged alcohol-related incident that ended up being reported to local police, according to ABC News. The identities of the personnel involved have not been made public, but they’re currently on their way back to Washington, D.C. to face disciplinary action.
The agents were not part of the presidential security team, and were in South Korea as part of a reconnaissance and logistical team to prepare for Biden’s trip to the country. According to ABC News, sources familiar with the incident say the two agents went out for dinner and then decided to hit several bars. The two allegedly became progressively more intoxicated, which led to one of the agents getting into a “heated argument” with a cab driver.
#BREAKING: NBC News is reporting that we have yet another Secret Service incident as two agents were just sent home from Seoul, South Korea following a drunken incident and argument a few days ago over a taxi outside what is now President Biden's hotel. pic.twitter.com/mlCxtT6Pgy
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 20, 2022
Police were eventually called to the scene and a report was filed. The agent involved in the altercation was interviewed by local police authorities, but no charges have been filed.
“The Secret Service is aware of an off-duty incident involving two employees which may constitute potential policy violations,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, said in a statement about the incident.
“The individuals will be immediately returned back to their post of duty and placed on administrative leave. There was no impact to the upcoming trip. We have very strict protocols and policies for all employees and we hold ourselves to the highest professional standards. Given this is an active administrative personnel matter, we are not in a position to comment further,” he said.
Although little else is known about the incident, there are shades here of an earlier Secret Service scandal, which took place in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012. It was a similar situation, with field agents preparing for a trip to the country by then-president Barack Obama. In that case, 13 agents were alleged to have solicited prostitutes in the Colombian capital, and a report on the incident suggested that the consumption of large quantities of alcohol contributed to the agents “engaging in questionable behavior.”
Remember when Obama's secret service agents caused a scandal in Columbia back in 2012, when they ripped off a prostitute for services rendered? Well, they're at it again in South Korea. 2 SS agents were arrested & sent stateside after getting drunk & bad mouthing a taxi driver.
— Vietnam Vet (@Camp_Radcliff) May 20, 2022
Biden is currently in South Korea to meet with Yoon Suk-Yeol, the country’s newly-elected conservative president, whom some have christened “the South Korean Trump.” On Friday, the two world leaders took a tour of a Samsung electronics campus, which is to be used as a model for a factory in Texas—all part of Biden’s decidedly “Trumpian” turn toward weaning the U.S. off dependence on China for electronic goods.
This is Biden’s first trip to Asia since taking up residence in the White House, and the trip will also see him visit Japan as he tries to signal the strength of U.S. alliances in the region in the face of accumulating threats from China, North Korea, and Russia.
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