The U.S. Secret Service pledged Tuesday to take "appropriate action" in dealing with an agent who suggested she would not "take a bullet" for Donald Trump prior to the election.
The agent, later revealed to be Kerry O'Grady, a senior member of the Secret Service's Denver office, made the comments in a series of Facebook posts in October which were later removed. She originally posted shortly after a 2005 audiotape, in which Trump made remarks which appeared to condone sexual assault, was made public and caused a national uproar.
"As a public servant for nearly 23 years, I struggle not to violate the Hatch Act. So I keep quiet and skirt the median," she wrote in one Facebook post. "To do otherwise can be a criminal offense for those in my position. Despite the fact that I am expected to take a bullet for both sides."
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According to the Hatch Act, certain appointed employees in the executive branch of the federal government, like the members of the secret service, are prohibited from engaging in some forms of political activity.
"[T]his world has changed and I have changed. And I would take jail time over a bullet or an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here. Hatch Act be damned. I am with Her," she added in a nod to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner published on Monday, O'Grady said she took down the posts after reflecting for two to three days and realizing she didn't want to create the impression that she wouldn't actually perform her job and risk her life for Trump or members of his administration if called upon to do so.
"It was an internal struggle for me but as soon as I put it up, I thought it was not the sentiment that I needed to share because I care very deeply about the mission," she told the Examiner. "I firmly believe in this job. I'm proud to do it and we serve the office of the president."
She also told the Examiner that she have been the victim of a sexual assault while she was a college student, so she has an especially "emotional reaction" to what then candidate Trump had said on tape.
"[I] recognize that the agency is the most important thing to me. My government is the most important thing to me," she told the Examiner. "I serve at the pleasure of the president, but I still have the First Amendment right to say things."
O'Grady has not commented further on her social media outburst, but that hasn't stopped many supporters of the 45th president from excoriating her on Twitter, which has prompted one unrelated New York-based professor who happens to have the same name plead for an end to the barrage:
"All Secret Service agents and employees are held to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct," the agency has said in an official statement. "Any allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and swiftly investigated."
This story has become yet another unflattering headline for the embattled agency, which was widely criticized for disturbing security lapses and inappropriate behavior by agents during President Barack Obama's tenure in the White House.
These controversies resulted in the resignation of the agency's first female director, Julia Pierson, in 2014. The agency has since been headed up by Joseph Clancy, a veteran of the organization.
Although the secret service has accompanied Trump for over a year, and even sprang into action a couple times to protect him on the campaign trail when he was still a candidate, the president has also maintained a private security force, an unconventional move that breaks with decades of tradition.
"I want to thank the Secret Service, they don't get enough credit, they're amazing people," Trump said following an apparent disturbance at one of his rallies in November.
Ironically, Trump's former personal bodyguard, 57-year-old Keith Schiller, has come under fire himself for making outrageous political statements of his own. For instance, he retweeted a message referring to the former President Barack Obama as "Criminal President Obama" just two months ago.