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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Ryan Parker, Los Angeles Times (MCT)

A multitude of failures occurred in late September when a White House fence-jumper was able to make his way into what is supposed to be one of the most securely guarded buildings in the world, according to a new report.

A man was able to jump the fence and sprint into the White House with a pocketknife on Sept. 19, in part because a canine handler who could have stopped him sooner was on his cell phone taking a personal call without his radio earpiece in, according to a Homeland Security Department report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Because of that distraction, it took him 11 seconds to respond, which, according to the report, he did only after he saw another uniformed officer running toward the White House.

Among a flurry of chaotic radio traffic and an obscured view of the north grounds because of construction — the area where the fence was jumped — authorities were either unaware of the situation as it unfolded or lacked the specific information to immediately reach the intruder, according to the report.

Omar Gonzalez, 42, has been charged in the case.

The report says the intruder was able to scale the fence quickly because he chose a section missing an ornamental spike, and he was able to make his way through bushes directly outside the White House North Portico, which authorities chasing him assumed were “too thick to be passable.”

Three different Secret Service members had their guns pointed at the intruder during the chase outdoors, but none fired because they did not see a weapon.

One of those agents was the guard directly outside the North Portico doors, who, like others, was unaware of the situation because of chaotic radio traffic and obscured sight. That agent, according to the report, assumed the doors of the North Portico were locked, so he assumed the intruder was trapped outside.

“By the time his realized the doors were not locked, Gonzalez was inside the White House,” states the report.

The intruder was apprehended about 100 feet inside the White House.

According to federal prosecutors, Gonzalez was carrying a Spyderco VG-10 knife with a 3.5-inch blade, and had hundreds of rounds of ammunition in a car parked nearby, including 12-gauge shotgun shells, 9mm rounds and rounds for a sniper rifle.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement the internal report shed much needed light on the failures of an unacceptable situation.

“While some of these problems can be attributed to a lack of resources, others are systemic and indicative of Secret Service culture,” Thompson said in a statement.” Some of these problems have begun to be addressed, however it is imperative that DHS follows through on these findings and institutes real reforms.”

AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.