Bill Clinton was once caught trying to sneak out of the White House – apparently to visit a mistress – by hiding under a raincoat in the back of his personal lawyer’s car.
The former president was stopped by a Secret Service officer at the gate who inspected lawyer Bruce Lindsey’s vehicle and was shocked to see Clinton inside.
Lindsey pleaded to be allowed to pass but the uniformed officer held firm and radioed for backup. The officer said: ‘You better get me some help here.
‘I just caught Bruce Lindsey trying to drive out with the President with a raincoat over his head’.
The incident was recounted by former Secret Service officer Gary Byrne – who guarded the Clintons – in his new book,Secrets of the Secret Service: The History and Uncertain Future of the US Secret Service, which is out next month.
Byrne does not reveal the nature of Clinton’s excursion but says that he would routinely sneak out to visit his ‘well known and less well known mistresses’ in Washington DC.
Such trips were known as ‘Off The Record’ or OTR, a privilege normally reserved for somber occasions such as visits to the families of dead servicemen.
But Clinton supposedly began to use them for his secret assignations which left the Secret Service outraged.
The undated episode with the raincoat left the senior agents ‘past fury’, he writes.
The book says: ‘They were dejected, disappointed, bewildered and shocked. They tried to remain diplomatic but they had to be adamant with Bruce Lindsey that this would never happen again’.
Clinton’s attempts to ‘sneak off’ became something to look out for after the raincoat incident, which led Clinton to using OTR trips to his own ends.
Byrne writes that Clinton ‘abused’ this freedom and on one occasion it nearly cost a Secret Service agent his life.
On a normal trip, the President was part of a motorcade which blazed through red lights with sirens going to ensure he could not be attacked.
Any trip required cooperation from the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, which blocked off roads to prevent a terrorist attack and to keep people away.
But Clinton asked for everything to be changed ‘at the last minute’ when he wanted to make his trips out of the White House with less security and less attention.
The Secret Service ‘capitulated’ but Clinton wanted trips that were even more secret than that, meaning the agency did not have enough time to plan for proper security.
According to Byrne, the new arrangements ‘eliminated layers of protection all together’ meaning that the remaining security layers were disjointed.
All of this put the service personnel and the public at ‘extreme risk’, Byrne claims.