Embattled Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday following embarrassing missteps that placed the president and the first family at risk, the Department of Homeland Security announced. [...] Under Pierson's watch, an armed intruder managed to jump the White House fence and run deep into the building brandishing a knife as ran past a stairwell leading to the first family's private residence... Separately, the president was in an elevator in Atlanta two weeks with an armed security contractor with assault convictions.
The writing was on the wall. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, suggested this morning that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson may need to resign to help restore confidence in the agency. Soon after, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Cummings' concerns.
The beginnings of a political avalanche took shape. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Fox this morning it was time for Pierson's ouster, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) scheduled a press conference for this afternoon in which he would do the same.
Left with no options, and with the Secret Service burdened by a series of frightening missteps, Pierson had no choice but to step down.
According to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Joseph Clancy, a retired special agent and the former head of the Presidential Protective Division, will serve as an interim acting director until Pierson's successor is in place. [Disclosure: Clancy is currently serving as the director of Comcast Corporate Security, and Comcast owns NBC Universal.]
Pierson, who was not in charge for all of the recent controversies -- the 2011 shooting incident, for example, was before her tenure -- took over as director in March 2013.
After the announcement, Cummings said as part of a larger statement, "I absolutely respect her decision, and now we have to ensure that we focus on the difficult work of fully restoring the Secret Service to its rightful status as the most elite protective service in the world."