A day after Kirstjen Nielsen was reportedly dismissed as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, President Trump abruptly fired the director of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Randolph “Tex” Ailes and named USSS Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations James Murray to replace him.
“United States Secret Service director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles has done a great job at the agency over the last two years, and the President is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Ailes’ ouster comes after a Chinese national, Yujing Zhang, was arrested after she illegally entered President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and was found to be carrying a bag full of technology, including nine USB drives – at least one containing malware as well as a laptop, an external hard drive, a signaling device meant to detect hidden cameras and multiple cell phones.
The Secret Service seemed to place blame for the incident primarily on the staff at the resort. “On March 30, 2019, physical screening was conducted by the Secret Service once Mar-a-Lago staff determined an individual was to be granted access to the property,” the Secret Service said in a statement at the time. “After the first physical screening, Mar-a-Lago staff transported the individual by a shuttle to the next screening checkpoint. Individuals are prohibited from disembarking the shuttle between screenings and the route is monitored by Secret Service personnel.”
A Secret Service agent apparently put the infected thumb drive seized from Zhang into his laptop to check the contents but quickly removed it when he realized it was installing files, according to a report in the Miami Herald.
Ailes’s firing does not appear related to the incident, which brought new scrutiny to security at Mar-a-Lago, but is rather part of a larger shakeup at DHS. In a letter to employees obtained by CNN’s Jim Acosta, Ailes expressed faith in Murray and said he regretted he “was not able to address the workforce prior to this announcement.”