As you might imagine, ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino is not warming the hearts of his former bosses these days. He’s also not on the best of terms with his own brother, a Secret Service agent whose team was entwined in the Colombia prostitute scandal last year.
“It has strained our family pretty badly,” Bongino told FishbowlDC in an phone interview this week.
He won’t expand on his brother too much except to say, “You’d think I’d have some inside knowledge but I don’t.” He says his brother has moved to New York. “We talk, but it’s not how it was. The relationship is OK. I’ll leave it at that.”
Forget about his brother for a moment. It’s White House staff that he exposes in a new tell-all called Life Inside The Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away From it All. Bongino explains, “It wasn’t uncommon for the White House staff to engage in similar behavior.”
When pressed, he won’t name names. Still, he’s adamant it was high-level staff and involved people in varying marital statuses.
“I could have, truthfully, to sell books and be salacious,” he says on the matter of naming names. “The people on those trips know exactly who they are. I’m not talking about just low level people, either. They can ruminate on that. The general kind of party atmosphere. You go to these wheels up parties, there’s the [Seinfeld] Elaine drunk dancing at the party. Is it illegal? No, but is it professional of a White House staffer? Probably not.”
Some basics on Bongino: he worked for the Secret Service for 12 years but resigned to run as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Maryland. Not surprisingly, Fox News’ Sean Hannity praises his book as “a rare peek inside the D.C. bubble which should be a wake-up call to every American.”
Bongino says White House staff were quick to throw Secret Service under the bus in the Columbia scandal. But, he says, the Secret Service will never strike back. (Except, um, with a tell-all book like his?)
“They hate it, but they won’t,” he says of Secret Service agents. “It’s part of the code. The Secret Service will never punch back at the administration.” He explains that if they do, no one wins. “The problem is then nothing changes,” he says. “There’s a perception that we work for the President. We actually don’t. We work to protect the President. It’s different. He’s not really the boss.”
Even so, Bongino can’t say a harsh word about President Obama and his wife, Michelle, because he insists they are really nice people. “I always get hate mail when I say they are nice people,” he says. “I’d be lying to you if I said he’d ever been unpleasant to me. He’s been very nice. My goal here wasn’t to hurt that relationship at all. I think the media betrayal of her is off [the charts].” When told about the reputation of the first lady’s high strung staff, he replies, “Her staff is ruthless.”
While the author may not badmouth the President, he easily berates the media and their alleged liberal biases, making him sound easily like a reporter for Breitbart.com or Fox News.
For example, he goes off on the media for not reporting the failure of the Obamacare website sooner, as he claimed right-wing sites did. But when asked for specifics, as in who knew the site wasn’t working before it wasn’t working, he grows just as angst-ridden in his reply but can’t list off any facts. (In other words, the so-called liberal media stinks and really should have written about the failed website sooner. As it happens, it seems that more than a few outlets are covering the matter. A Google search turns up some 60 million hits on the topic.)
In a more sturdy example, Bongino says Obama never suffered any threat level higher than other presidents, as he says was claimed by the mainstream media. “I describe the process in pretty intimate detail on how it was fabricated,” he says. “The threat level on the President is always high, but there was no discernible difference [among the presidents]. There could have been some miscommunication in some of the statements. That theme has been taken as fact.”
When asked if there are any journalists out there who do their jobs well and don’t display the kind of biases he’s talking about, he quickly rattles off the usual suspects conservatives can compliment without frothing at the mouth: CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Fox News’ Bret Baier.
“It’s what I’m not telling you that should really scare you,” he says of the contents of his book. “Speaking truth to power has always been tough.”