Secret Service Chief James Murray leaves the agency

Secret Service Director James Murray is stepping down as head of the legendary Protective Service, according to a statement released by the agency on Thursday, a departure that comes at a time when the agency has been in the spotlight and making headlines. hotly debated in Congress. testimony.

Murray, who has held the position since 2019, has been looking to retire “for some time” and plans to work in the private sector, according to a senior Department of Homeland Security official familiar with his decision.

Murray has accepted a senior security position with California-based social media company Snapchat, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share internal details. Murray, a 27-year-old Secret Service veteran, served in various high-level positions with the agency before becoming director in May 2019. His last day will be July 30, the statement said.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that under Murray’s leadership, the Secret Service has “enhanced its status as the world’s preeminent protective agency and increased the sophistication and scope of its investigative capabilities.”

January 6 showed dueling identities of Secret Service agents: Brave heroes versus Trump yes-men

A Secret Service statement said Murray “helped the agency meet the unique challenges presented by the historic COVID-19 pandemic” while continuing to fulfill “its integrated mission of providing protection to senior elected leaders and investigate crimes targeting our financial infrastructure.”

Yet the agency, best known for protecting current and former presidents and their families, has endured multiple controversies over the past decade, including a prostitution scandal, White House security missteps under the administration and allegations of politicization under President Donald Trump.

Two Secret Service employees in South Korea for President Biden’s trip to Asia in May were involved in conduct that ended in a confrontation with South Korean citizens. The incident happened while the officers were off duty, but they returned to the United States and were placed on administrative leave.

The episode came a month after agency executives admitted that four Secret Service employees — including an agent assigned to protect first lady Jill Biden — were allegedly deceived by two men posing as federal agents. , who gave them gifts.

In recent weeks, its agents have become central figures in the House committee’s investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, with sometimes explosive testimony drawing unwanted attention to the agency.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath last month that she was told that Trump lashed out at his protective detail on Jan. 6, when officers failed to take him to join his supporters in marching to the Capitol, at one point rushing behind the wheel of the presidential vehicle.

Officials said anonymously that Secret Service agents disputed some of the details of Hutchinson’s account – and said they were prepared to do so in sworn testimony – although they did not dispute the idea that Trump was angry and wanted to be taken to the Capitol.

Hutchinson also testified that Trump complained that Secret Service gun control prevented armed supporters from entering his “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.

The Secret Service was also part of the focus on Vice President Mike Pence, who refused his team’s requests to ride in an armored car during the Jan. 6 assault. Reportedly, he feared his protectors would remove him from the Capitol and prevent him from overseeing the final count of the electoral college votes.

White House officials said Thursday there was no connection between the congressional hearings and Murray’s departure. “It has been in talks for several months – for his retirement, I believe, since April,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “So before the January 6 hearing.”

Jean-Pierre declined to discuss a potential replacement for Murray, but when asked if Biden would appoint the service’s first black director, she noted the president’s commitment to diversity.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the process, but as you know, he’s a president who prides himself on making sure that we have fairness, that we have inclusion,” he said. she declared. “You see that up and down in his administration. He wants to make sure we have an administration that looks like America.

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