Following the dramatic arrest of a White House contractor on attempted murder charges on Tuesday, the Secret Service finds itself on the hook for an explanation of how the man had been cleared to work at the presidential complex despite two past run-ins with the law.
Martese Edwards, who performed administrative work for the National Security Council in resources (such as handling parking passes and room bookings) was detained by uniformed Secret Service officers at a White House checkpoint on June 4 when it emerged that he was wanted for the attempted murder in May of an ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend in Prince George’s County, Md., according to the Maryland state’s attorney in news reports.
It then emerged that Edwards had been the subject of a temporary restraining order for domestic violence in August 2013, and had been charged with second-degree assault in August 2015, according to the office of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. The lawmaker has asked for an investigation given that the White House last year was caught unawares that one of its then-key staffers, Robert Porter, had twice been accused of spousal abuse.
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The Secret Service on Wednesday issued a statement on the Edwards case, saying that it had not received information on the contractor in the national Criminal Justice Information System concerning the May 17 warrant. “Nor was the Secret Service contacted by any law enforcement organization regarding the subject,” it said. “Edwards did not come to the attention of the Secret Service at the time of warrant entry due to the fact the original entry lacked a Universal Control Number or other personal identifiable information which would trigger an ‘alert’ to the Secret Service.”
The Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office “entered limited information” on the arrest, the federal agency added, so that the White House protection team did not receive it from the national database.
It was only after the local sheriff entered “identifiable information, including a Universal Control Number pertaining to Edwards” as of June 4 that the Secret Service executed the arrest the next day.
Rep. Cummings on Thursday wrote to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, with a copy to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., demanding a series of documents. Documents requested include all those relating to Edwards’ clearance to access the White House complex, the background checks performed on him, all of his computer access rights in the White House complex, anything known about the allegations of domestic abuse against Edwards “or any other White House employee or contractors,” and any outstanding arrest warrants and communications relating to the Criminal Justice Information System.
“These reports raise grave questions,” Cummings wrote, “about how an individual facing charges of attempted murder could have continued working at the White House for nearly three weeks.”
Neither the White House nor the Prince George’s County Sheriff responded to inquiries by publication time.
Edwards previously worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency in logistics support, Pentagon officials told CBS News.