Gary Byrne: Secret Service Man
Sam interviews Gary Byrne, former Secret Service officer and author of the book Crisis of Character that focuses on who the Clintons become when the cameras are off.
Sam Mirejovsky: We have a guest on tonight. I’ve got him on the line here. Before he comes on just let me briefly introduce him to you. His name is Gary Byrne and he wrote a book called Crisis of Character and he’s been on a lot of shows and you may have heard from him but I’ve got some very specific questions to ask him because — well let me get Gary on the line. Gary, how are you.
Gary Byrne: Good, how are you.
SM: Doing great thanks for making time for us. I appreciate it.
GB: Thank you I appreciate the invitation.
SM: Now I know you met a lot of people in Cleveland, but I had a minute to meet with you and talk with you when we were both at the convention. Did you have a good time at that.
GB: I did. It was a great experience to experience it from the inside as opposed to working the outside when I was in the Secret Service.
SM: So you’re in the Secret Service, you’re going to the convention, obviously that event is entirely orchestrated by the Secret Service and other law enforcement. Are you just looking at it — looking at all those agents — and going, ‘I am really glad I’m not working this event.’
GB: Well, I don’t know it was good to see my fellow Uniformed Division officers. It was weird looking at it from the other side. But I was grateful they were there, and they were kind to me. It was good.
SM: I bet, so let me tell you, we’ve got less than a week to go to the election. And I’ll tell you what, besides the book, and I want to get into it because I read it. I read it in July, it’s an excellent read, and we’ll go through it. But besides the book, you, sir, have a unique perspective. Which I think is especially relevant today, now. Because we’re less than seven days from the election. And as far as I know you’re the only person I will ever talk to I think who was this close to the Clintons. And can give us, I think, some degree of insight into Hillary. And I want to talk to you about that. So with that, lemme — when you wrote the book how long were in the White House. How long were you there?
GB: I was in the Secret Service Uniform Division for twelve years. Although I had other assignments, like at the training center a couple miles away, I always worked back at the White House on the weekends. I worked continuously there for about eight years.
SM: So your service in the White House in the Uniform Division that predated the Clinton Presidency, right?
GB: It did. I started there in ’91 with Poppa Bush and I stayed until 2003 with Son Bush.
SM: And explain to the listeners, I think a lot of people think of the Secret Service — they see agents, you know they’ve got the dark suit, the tie, the gun, but what’s the difference between being an agent and being an officer in the Uniform Division.
GB: Sure. So the agents are the people that run the Secret Service. Like you said, in the suits with the ear pieces. They’re also federal investigators. Their main priority aside from the protection of the President is protection of our currency. They do counterfeit and fraud investigations. But at the White House they’re in charge of the security. And the Uniform Division does most everything else. And what I mean by that, is they do the metal detectors for the President and the Vice President. They do the bomb sniffing K-9 dogs. They do the counter sniper officers on the roof and in high up places where the president travels. They also do the the local Secret Service crime scene investigation in Washington around the White House.
SM: So you guys do all the heavy lifting.
GB: Well, sort of. To a certain extent. The uniformed division also does all the fixed posts around the White House and the Vice Presidential residence. And also internally. And of course my post, which I ended up kind of becoming famous for was outside the Oval Office. I was there for three years.
SM: So now tell me, because a lot of people who are critical of what you write in the book, what they will say is they talk about how there’s no way you could have seen what you saw as a uniformed officer. Can you speak to that?
GB: Sure. So the first thing you need to know about me — your listeners need to know about me — is I’m the first employee in the history of the Secret Service to ever be compelled to testify against a sitting president in a criminal law case. And that was the Monica Lewinsky case. I was subpoenaed six times. And then I was eventually ordered to testify by Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist or go to jail. So when people say I couldn’t have saw what I saw, I wish they were around when the subpoenas were flying. Because that would have been great. The truth of the matter is that the Secret Service Agents — Retired, excuse me, the Retired Secret Service Agents Association that has come out and slandered me. They’re trying to make it look like they controlled everything in the White House. That’s really not the honest truth. The truth is that the Uniformed Division has been holding to those posts internally in the White House and externally for over 75 years. So I saw what I saw. I experienced what I experienced. And that was my life. Um, you know many people — quite a few Secret Service agents over the years have written books. And the Retired Agents Association has never come out and slandered them. It’s only when a Uniformed Division officer comes out —
SM: And why is that? I mean, explain that to me. Is that a rivalry between the two sides of the Secret Service?
GB: It is. You know it’s almost like a bigotry with them to be honest with you. It really is —
SM: Are you the basket of deplorables then in the US Secret Service?
GB: Yes I was. Yes, absolutely. You know to actually get to the point where — you know years ago when I first came on there was a lot of tension between the agents and the officers because the Uniformed Division was tired of being treated very poorly. At one time, they used to put us in these crappy hotels and the agents stayed in their Marriott and Sheraton, and then we complained and it actually blew up in their faces one time. They put us up in this really bad hotel. And eight Uniform Division officers ended up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. And that kind of blew the lid off it. Yeah, so we ended up suing and —
SM: That reminds me, that totally reminds me of Cleveland by the way. Because I stayed in — I don’t know about you — but in Cleveland I literally stayed in a murder motel. I mean I had blood splatter on my wall. But the joke of course was I survived it. And you know all the California delegates? Remember what happened tot hem? They went and stayed in a fancy resort. And they came down with some virus — some Norovirus — wiped half of them out. So we lived that back in Cleveland. So look, for people who are just tuning in I’m talking to Gary Byrne, retired US Secret Service officer in the Uniform Division, was there in the Clinton White House and we’re just talking now about your point of view, right, because where were you physically in the White House, and you’re telling me how you’re stationed right outside the Oval Office. And I don’t mean to press the issue, but I’ve never been to the White House. Most people listening I’m pretty sure have never been to the White House. From your station where you are standing, where they’ve put you, and by the way you — I read in the book you have to stand in place. And it’s like your whole shift you basically have to stay there. Right, is that how that works?
GB: Right. Eight hours and you had two people, myself and another officer, and you rotated an hour on and an hour off. And um, they allowed you to work out at times and you also had different responsibilities. Here’s what —
SM: Quick question, sorry, quick question I have is, when you’re standing outside the door, is that the only door you have in and out of the Oval Office?
GB: No. No, that’s the thing. That post, when an officer stands that post, the reason he’s there is because that’s where the alarms are for everything else. All the other ways you can access the President when you’re in there, all the alarms go there. And they also go to the control center. And we have redundancy ways to transmit back and forth from the control center so they and us — the post standers right there — know exactly what’s going on every second if something goes wrong.
SM: Got it. And so from that door now, is that generally the door that visitors come to the Oval Office, the one that you’re standing by?
GB: No. That’s generally the door, the next one down, the secretary’s office. So when they President is in there, they’ll be an agent outside the secretary’s office. They’ll be an agent outside the Oval Office door where I am, and then my post moves back and forth when they’re there. When they’re not there, when the President moves, then the Uniform Division officer basically opens the office up.
SM: Just to clarify this for the listeners, it’s a big deal. This sort of, this questioning is important because so many people have tried to say you could not have seen what you saw, and yet from your post, that’s the nervous center of the executive mansion. You’re seeing the comings and goings of people in and out of those corridors.
GB: Yeah, we saw many things. Absolutely. Let me put it to you — give you more perspective. I’m actually suing Media Matters, David Brock, and the Retired Secret Service Agents Association for slander. And just to give you an idea, eventually when we file the suit after the election as we move forward here, I’m gonna tell you who my witnesses are. My witness list is Bill and Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, George Stephanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel, John Podesta — who is running her campaign —
SM: I was actually gonna ask you about him
GB: That’s why I laughed when the book first came out and they’re like, ‘he couldn’t have saw—’ Listen. Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri know exactly what I saw. Jennifer Palmieri was Leon Panetta, the Chief of Staff’s, assistant —
SM: By the way, if I can interject, Gary, Palmieri is the gal whose emails are all over this hack. If you’re been listening. If you’ve been watching these Podesta emails and you’ve been reading them, Jennifer Palmieri is the gal, she’s his number one correspondent. She’s all over this. I’m sure you’ve been following that story closely.
GB: Something else I’d like to point out. When the memo leaked out from the FBI about when the FBI interviewed the State Department security agents, they were talking about the same things I talk about in the book.
SM: So if I can just, the memo that leaked out was that these agents — these were professionals that were guarding, that are assigned to the security detail for the Secretary of State. And they also work with other people at the State Department. But they — normally that’s a post that goes to senior agents, is that right?
SM: And the senior agents all refused to protect Hillary because she was such a witch, for a lack of a better word.
Right, that’s exactly right.
SM: So what kind of mistreatment did you specifically witness?
GB: So, I’ll start with what she did to me. And this kind of goes along with — you kind of have to use your thought process here. You know one of the big scandals right now is her email server. You know her lack of ability to secure classified information. So let’s back up to 1994, and I’m standing outside my post, outside the oval office. And she comes up and starts berating me because I won’t let her bring 40 tourists, 40 visitors from Arkansas that are there to visit her, she wants to leave them in the Oval Office while the President’s not there by themselves. And it can’t be done. It’s against the law — it’s against the rules that are based on National Security laws of who can be in there and who can’t. And she berated me. She called me an a-hole. She called the whole uniformed division a bunch of a-holes—
SM: But I mean, aren’t people just gonna say, Gary, that, hey look, other presidents, other first ladies have big egos too. And, you know, they want to have their way when they’re at the White House. I mean—
GB: Sure. That’s called a dictatorship—
SM: I mean, did you witness this kind of behavior with the Bushes?
GB: No. Nobody has ever — listen. The only person that I know who has acted that way a little bit, and it wasn’t as bad as I’m discussing, was actually a former President, was actually LBJ. I mean, I know all the stories of the former Presidents because I worked there. We actually learned about this stuff in training. Listen, what I’m describing to you is a dictator. That’s someone who lives down in South America somewhere that’s a little banana republic. That’s not — first of all, she’s only the First Lady. She’s wasn’t supposed to have a position. She was somebody who — you know First Lady was basically an honorary position who would run the East Wing. But that wasn’t good enough for her because she’s power hungry. Now she wants control of everything. And, truly, if anybody does the research, everything she touched while she was there, went down the tubes.
SM: You know I actually want to ask you about that. Because I always joke on the program that Hillary was co-president.
GB: That’s exactly right.
SM: But I want to ask you, what specifically — give me an example of that. What is something she would do that was different from other first ladies that you saw.
GB: Do you remember who Lani Guinier was?
SM: Sure, of course.
GB: Right, do you remember how radical she was?
SM: Yeah, she was one of the aides, wasn’t she the person who originally worked on healthcare reform, was in Hillary’s ear about healthcare reform?
GB: No, Lani Guinier was a person that Hillary put forward as a nominee for the Justice Department. When they started researching her she turned out to be this crazy radical. And as soon as everybody figured out exactly who she was, all the sudden Hillary had to back off and act like she hardly knew her. Kind of what you see with Huma Abedin right now.
SM: Well I’ve got those clips. Do you mind, can I hold you over to the next segment? Do you have a few more minutes for me, because we’re just getting started and this is so good. And again, I just want to remind listeners, Gary Byrne, he was outside the Oval Office. Saw Bill and Hillary Clinton up close. We’re in the last week of this election and I think what you have to say Gary is important. We’ll be back in just a few minutes.
SM: Sam Mirejovsky here, Sam Nation on Talk Radio 790 KABC and I’m talking to Gary Byrne who’s the retired Secret Service officer who was stationed right outside the Oval Office during Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House. Gary, are you there?
GB: I am.
SM: Perfect, thanks for hanging in there with us. Podesta really is in the eye of the storm right now. You brought him up. I was going to get to him. You know, in the book, um, first of all, any organization — I’ll start here — Any organization it’s always the culture of that organization is determined by the guy at the top. And you write in your book extensively about how morally bankrupt Bill Clinton was. Was everybody in the White House just like him or were there some good people?
GB: Absolutely. Leon Panetta was a great guy. Very nice man from California. He was a good congressman. He’s one of those — I used to tell myself when he was much younger and so was I, that he was the Democrat that if he ever ran for office I could consider — office of the Presidency — I could consider voting for him. There were some other —
SM: Yeah, I mean he ended up serving under Obama. And I mean, he’s been around for a long time. And I mean, he was a good guy.
GB: Yeah. Listen, we’re all human. We’re all fallible. But he was a good decent guy. He had a nice family. Um, I remember Podesta. I used to see him all the time. He worked, Podesta’s office was on the ground floor of the White House across from the Navy Mess that used to be the barber shop. His office was in that space. I used to see him all the time. I used to see Jennifer Palmieri.
SM: These people, by the way, just to finish it. You had Podesta, he’s a good guy. Ironically, you talk about Dick Morris and what a tool he was. Even though Morris was a Republican. And I think one of the only real, sort of Republicans in the Clinton White House in that era. Why didn’t you like Morris? What was your observation of him?
GB: It’s not really that I didn’t like him. When you work there in the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service it’s not our job to like or dislike anyone. It’s just our job to protect them. It’s not that I dislike him. It’s just that it became ironic when I found out why — we used to see him all the time, he’d come in late at night. He’d come in on the West Wing side. He’d walk past the Oval Office, go over to the mansion. And every time we’d have to show him how to get there. And somebody had to help him go over to the residence. We found out later on, when I was researching my book and I read Leon Panetta’s book, I found out through Leon Panetta’s book what Morris was doing is he was going over there and meeting with Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton and they were basically — whatever Panetta and President Clinton had decided to do during the daytime, then Morris was in there at night, circumventing the government and teaching him how to do this triangulation thing so they could win the next election. And basically was kind of circumventing what the Chief of Staff Panetta was doing during the daytime. And I didn’t realize it. Who knew what was going on. It really wasn’t our business. But when I researched my book and I saw when Panetta talked about what was going on he found out later on and it fell right into place —
SM: Well it was all politics. I mean the Clintons were politicking instead of managing the country.
GB: Right. That’s exactly right. And see that’s my fear. It’s one of the things I want your listeners to understand. It’s one of the reasons I wrote my book Crisis of Character. Because at the time, have no doubt in your mind, when the country elected Bill Clinton President you got Bill and Hillary. If Hillary Clinton gets elected, you’re gonna get Hillary and Bill. And he had 19 scandals in eight years. They didn’t have time to govern. I mean look at all the things they could have done and didn’t —
SM: Well Hillary — I mean I agree with you — I mean, I think that’s a great point. If Hillary’s elected with all this over her, she’ll be crippled from day one. Even before she’s sworn in.
GB: They could end up being the first married couple to both be president and both impeached. Think about that.
SM: Well if that isn’t true love I don’t know what is. So I gotta ask you about one particular moment here really quick in the few seconds we have remaining. Drudge broke the story on Monica Lewinsky. We know how all that happened. Story breaks, and you felt sick! You know I would have felt come-uppins if I were you. I would have felt like, yeah, Bill got what he deserved. Why did you feel sick?
GB: Yeah, because I knew what was going to happen. I’d seen what happened to one of my co-workers, Hank O’Neill when he got involved in the Vince Foster death and I knew what was going to happen. I could see as soon as the story broke, I could see in my mind’s eye that this investigation was going to come forward and Judge Starr was going to want to talk to anyone he had to. And I knew they would eventually figure out the Uniform Division officers knew that the agents knew what they wanted to know. And they were gonna hammer it together. And they did.
SM: Got it. Well Gary, I really appreciate you being on. The book is excellent, I read it. It was a total page-turner. Gotta get this book. Gary J. Byrne, Crisis of Character. And Gary, thanks for being on. Talk to you soon.