White House contractor was wanted on attempted murder warrant was able to gain clearance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A man wanted on a warrant for attempted murder was able to gain White House clearance as a contractor because key information identifying him had been omitted from a national database used in background checks, the U.S. Secret Service said on Wednesday.

The contractor, Martese Edwards, 29, was arrested at a White House checkpoint as he reported for work on Tuesday, a day after the Secret Service was belatedly notified of his fugitive status through the Criminal Justice Information System, the agency said in a statement.

Martese had worked for the National Security Council (NSC) since December 2017 as an employee of a staffing firm “who was assigned to provide temporary services” to that agency, a spokesman said.

“Mr. Edwards performed administrative functions and did not attend classified meetings,” the spokesman told Reuters in an email message, adding that Edwards’ access to White House facilities was revoked prior to his arrest.

Several media outlets reported Edwards worked in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and did not have access to the West Wing of the White House, where President Donald Trump works.

An arrest warrant on a charge of attempted murder had been issued for Edwards by the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office on May 17.

But the Secret Service said Edwards did not come to its attention at the time because the original warrant entry lacked a “Universal Control Number” and other personal ID information that would have alerted the agency.

No explanation was given for why critical information was left out of the original warrant entry. But the sheriff’s office updated the entry on June 4 with proper identifying information, generating a notice to the Secret Service that Edwards was wanted by police, the agency said.

The warrant was verified and Edwards was taken into custody the following day, the Secret Service said. He was then turned over to the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department. He was awaiting a court appearance on Wednesday for extradition back to Maryland, said Sharon Taylor of the sheriff’s office.

Details of the underlying police investigation of Edwards and the precise allegations against him were not immediately available.

(Reuters Staff; Writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Michael Perry)