A new book from one of his former Secret Service officers claims that Bill Clinton often snuck away from his wife and out of the White House to cozy up with “well-known and lesser-known mistresses,” and that a Secret Service officer in the motorcade was nearly killed in a crash during one secret escape.
Gary J. Byrne, a former Uniform Division officer at the center of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, writes in his latest book, Secrets of the Secret Service: The History and Uncertain Future of the U.S. Secret Service, that Clinton demanded a tiny motorcade to secretly dash around Washington unnoticed, ordering that the cars try to obey laws like stopped lights.
And in one of those motorcades, an unnamed Uniform Division officer trying to keep up ran a red light and was T-boned in an intersection, suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Identified only as “Reverend,” Byrne wrote that the driver and two others were injured and that the rest of Clinton’s motorcade drove on, leaving D.C. Police to clean up the mess. At the time, the police did not know that Clinton was being chauffeured around Washington incognito.
Afterward, according to the book, the agency tried to block payments to “Reverend” until he threatened to go to court where the details would be revealed. Still, the affair cut into the agency’s morale. Wrote Byrne in the book provided to Secrets:
“Word of what had happened to Reverend spread like wildfire through the Uniformed Division because any UD officer could have been in Reverend’s place. And although many would take a bullet for the president, what was the risk for? Were Clinton’s sordid personal affairs worth an officer’s life? Was that the duty we had signed up for, the reason we spent so much time away from our families?”
Byrne served in federal law enforcement for nearly 30 years — the U.S. Air Force Security Police, the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, and most recently as a Federal Air Marshal. In his first book, the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Crisis of Character, he shared his experiences as the first Secret Service employee compelled to testify in a criminal case against a sitting U.S. president.
His new book is a behind-the-scenes look at how the Secret Service operates.
During the Clinton years, the agency faced an initial crisis when the new president wanted his Arkansas State Police to help protect him, and then, failing that, wanted the Secret Service to play along with him like his home state police.
Byrne reports that the Secret Service did give in, but only so far.
For example, when Clinton tried to sneak out alone in a car driven by a longtime aide, the Uniformed Division officer at the front gate wouldn’t open it, and asked for backup.
Byrne quotes the unnamed officer’s call for help: “You better get me some help up here. I just caught Bruce Lindsey trying to drive out West Exec. with the president with a raincoat over his head.”
He also said that the service was angered with Clinton’s antics and efforts to skip out unnoticed. But in the end, they agreed to “off the record” trips in small motorcades, wrote Byrne.
“If the president could not completely duck his detail, he would at least take them ‘off the record,’ or OTR. Sometimes this was done for highly honorable reasons, such as when President Clinton, without fanfare, along with many other top military leadership, visited the grieving widow of a fallen high-ranking military official. But the freedom of OTRs under this president was soon to be abused and, in one instance, nearly cost an officer his life. President Clinton used the OTRs to visit the well-known and lesser-known mistresses he frequented outside the complex, meaning the ones who did not have access to the White House,” wrote Byrne, without mentioning Lewinsky, a Clinton intern.
It was on one of those OTRs that the accident with “Reverend” occurred, he wrote.
“Due to the haphazard, improvised, and extremely dangerous way the motorcade was operating, the tail car was T-boned by a civilian car correctly crossing the intersection at a green light. It wasn’t that Reverend’s car just missed the red light. But many of the cars in front of him had missed the light as well, and he had simply followed through. The car that hit him had not been stopped and waiting at the intersection; the civilian driving it had accelerated to full speed from a significant distance away. For the civilians, the light had long been green. Reverend was severely injured, as were another officer and two civilians. The convoy continued on. Metro PD was alerted, and that’s when it learned that the Secret Service had been operating throughout D.C. in such a dangerous fashion,” he wrote.
Byrne added, “Reverend was hospitalized with a severe traumatic brain injury. It was significant enough that he was pulled from duty pending his recovery and even then would return only on ‘light duty’ status. In an unfortunate mix-up and evidence of the Secret Service’s horrible management.”
He also offered an anecdote about how Clinton would take his wedding ring off when on his OTRs:
“Another tale that was kept from the public would have surely been called ‘Ringgate’ had the media caught wind of it. The president was in a major metropolitan airport, en route to Air Force One, when he realized he had left his wedding ring at his hotel. He ordered the motorcade to turn around so he could retrieve it. He was especially concerned about being seen arriving or boarding without his wedding ring as he had been traveling without the first lady.”