WASHINGTON -- Rep. Elijah E. Cummings appeared to call Wednesday for U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to step down over a series of recent security breaches at the White House -- becoming the first member of Congress to do so -- but then later softened his stance on the matter.
The Baltimore lawmaker, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, used several national media appearances Wednesday to say he did not believe Pierson's testimony before his committee on Tuesday conveyed a sense of urgency in addressing the problems.
"I am convinced that she is not the person to lead that agency," Cummings said on The Diane Rehm Show Wednesday when asked whether he thought Pierson should resign. "My trust has been eroded."
But soon after Cummings appeared to walk back that sentiment, noting on Twitter that he has "not decided about Pierson" but that he has concerns about the safety of the president.
The back and forth follows revelations that an intruder carrying a knife made it into the East Room of the White House on Sept. 19 and that President Barack Obama shared an elevator with an armed security guard that had prior convictions, a violation of security protocol.
A statement from Cummings' office to The Baltimore Sun reinforced the idea that the congressman had not yet made up his mind about Pierson.
"He believes that if she can't restore the public's trust in the agency -- and in particular address the cultural issues so agents feel comfortable raising security concerns to their higher-ups -- then of course she should not be in that position," an aide to Cummings said. "After yesterday's hearing, and after new revelations last night, the congressman's trust is eroding, and he believes there needs to be an independent review of the agency."