White House military aides probed over contact with foreign women
The service members all worked for the White House Communications Agency, a specialized military unit that helps provide the president, vice president, Secret Service and other officials with secure communications, the Washington Post reported citing unnamed officials.
Oops: White House Military Personnel May Have Had “Improper Contact” with “Foreign Women” During Trump's Asia Trip… https://t.co/0yjfaR3JqS— White House (@WhiteHouse24x7) November 22, 2017
The incident was said to have happened during Trump’s visit to Vietnam earlier this month, when the three US Army noncommissioned officers allegedly broke curfew. Vietnam was one of the stops on Trump’s 12-day Asia tour.
“We are aware of the incident, and it is currently under investigation,” Mark Wright, a spokesman for the defense department, told Reuters.
Service members with high-level security clearances are expected to report contacts with foreign individuals to ensure their interactions do not compromise national security. The three NCOs face the risk of losing their security clearances and could be subject to administrative discipline or courts-martial.
The mission of the agency is to prevent eavesdropping on presidential communications and to ensure the White House officials can be securely reached worldwide at a moment’s notice.
The episode comes after four military personnel on the same White House team faced allegations related to their behavior during a trip to Panama in August with Vice
President Mike Pence. Those men ‒ two from the Army and two from the Air Force ‒ stand accused of taking foreign women after hours into a secure areas as they prepared for Pence’s arrival, officials said.
They were all flown home before Pence arrived and stripped of their White House assignments pending the findings of the investigation, the Post reported. There is no indication at this point that the women who were brought to the hotel were prostitutes, officials said.
Army Colonel Amanda Azubuike told Stars and Stripes an investigation into the Panama case has been closed and the findings forwarded to senior military officials for review. She said she was not aware of the final conclusions or any disciplinary action.