Documents: White House spin on dog bites further angered Secret Service agents

by WorldTribune Staff, April 14, 2022

Secret Service agents were irate that the White House downplayed bite injuries, at least one of which was categorized as “severe,” caused by then-first dog Major, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch. Major’s current whereabouts are unknown.

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged just one biting incident, the documents show Major bit agents on eight consecutive days in March of last year.

Along with biting chunks of flesh of Secret Service agents, first dog Major also ripped an agent’s $500 overcoat, newly released documents show.

The documents also revealed internal discord at the Secret Service, which has been embroiled since last week in a bizarre infiltration scandal.

At a briefing on March 9, 2021, Psaki said “the first family’s younger dog, Major, was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual.”

The injured agent, whose injuries were categorized as “severe” by a colleague, fumed about Psaki’s spin.

“NO I didn’t surprise the dog doing my job by being at [redacted] as the press secretary just said! Now I’m pissed,” the agent wrote to a co-worker.

The documents show that Secret Service brass also sought to keep details of the dog bites out of official paperwork — at one point rejecting an agent’s “excessively detailed” account to avoid upsetting the first family.

The records, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch, show that attacks occurred both earlier and later than previously known and that one agent had even tried to get Joe Biden to personally pay for a damaged coat.

“These documents show Major was a dangerous dog and the Biden White House lied about it, placing Secret Service and other White House personnel at needless risk,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And it seems the Secret Service management seemed more concerned about managing press relations than taking care of its agents. In fact, the agency is still withholding information about this mess!”

According to a heavily redacted incident report, at about 7 a.m. on March 8, 2021 a Secret Service agent was in the second-floor White House residential area with first lady Jill Biden when “without warning or provocation, Major barked loudly at [the agent] … and charged.”

“Having no time to seek cover from the attack, [the agent] turned away from the dog as he bit into [redacted] right leg,” the account added.

About an hour later, Biden’s then-chief protective agent David Cho wrote in an email: “Major bit one of the agents this morning. The agent is ok, but does have bruising and a puncture.”

A message written by an unknown Secret Service employee refers to photos of the bite area and said the “injury cannot be described in any other term than ‘severe.’ ”

Photos of injuries to Secret Service agents who were bitten were redacted in the records. One photo that was released shows an agent’s wool overcoat that was ripped on March 6 as Joe and Jill Biden returned indoors from the White House Tennis Pavilion.

“As Major came around the corner, he attacked me unprovoked, tearing the wool overcoat I was wearing that evening,” the agent wrote in a first-hand account two months later as he sought reimbursement. “This attack occurred through no fault of my own and I could not avoid this unusual circumstance due to the nature and requirements of my position.”

An unidentified Secret Service employee reprimanded the agent, writing, “Please submit with the language that has been approved by [the legal office]. Unless you dispute anything in the verbiage that was presented to you, there shouldn’t be a need to embellish with additional details that aren’t required for approval.”

“If you would like to submit a separate memo to- memorializing the events of 3/6 in great detail, you certainly may. But your added language on the [form] provides more specificity that what [the legal office] requested. I have been told that if you update the [request] with the approved verbiage, your request will be processed.”

Another email blasts the bitten agent’s account as “excessively detailed and inappropriate” and states that “I was asked to have him submit with the language that has already been approved by [the legal office]. Not sure if he will or not. I don’t think it’s about the money anymore.”

A memo said Secret Service officials “explained the delicateness of the situation, in terms of potential damage in the trust of our protectees” to the bitten agent.

The agent ultimately withdrew his request for reimbursement, saying the first family should have to pay for the damage rather than the Secret Service. It is unclear if Biden paid for the coat, which was valued at more than $500, according to one document.

“After some deep thought and reflection, I don’t believe the USSS should be responsible for the damage to my coat as the cause was not under their control. To be compensated in this manner would essentially have the cost borne by the tax payer and this would be unjust,” the agent wrote, adding: “the responsibility should lie with the party responsible for the wrong doing (i.e. tort), and that of course would be the dog owner/s.”

The documents also show that agents were bitten in two previously unreported incidents on Feb. 28, 2022 — first around 9 a.m. and then around 7 p.m. — at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.

In the first attack of the day, the dog charged across a lawn and an agent “turned around to avoid a direct attack” and got bitten in the right thigh. A photo taken a week later showed an “oval shape” bruise that “demonstrates the outline of the dog’s closed jaws.”

Later in the day, Biden took his older dog, Champ, inside but left Major outdoors. “Almost immediately after the door had shut, [the agent] observed Major running at [redacted] full stride from the main driveway” and the agent “quickly made an effort to seek shelter inside … [but] Major intercepted [the agent] and bit down on [their] left forearm,” according to the documents.

The agent “quickly shook Major off,” but then “briefly turned [their] back on Major and the dog bit [redacted] a second time on the right buttock.”

The March 2021 attacks, which got attention in the media, mostly from independent outlets, were not the last.

A Secret Service agent wrote in an email that on May 12, 2021, “Out of nowhere the dog jumps and bites the sleeve of my suit jacket missing my arm (front teeth just scratching the top of the skin). As I lift my arm up the dog was still attached to my suit jacket and the First Lady was attempting to pull the dog off of me via the leash.”

Major was given to family friends late last year, the White House said. His present whereabouts are unknown.

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