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April 23rd, 2012
05:20 PM ET

Secret Service director survives scandal, so far

By Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent

There is nothing good to say about a scandal involving 12 Secret Service agents in a foreign country in advance of a presidential trip with 20 prostitutes and too much liquor.

"It included two supervisors," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "That is particularly shocking and appalling."

Widespread respect for the Secret Service in general helps blunt the impact. It also helps that Director Mark Sullivan seems well-versed in the rules of Scandal Handling 101.

Rule 1: The best defense is lightning-speed offense.

"[The agents involved] are gone, half of them, and I think others will be leaving shortly," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told me Sunday.

Rule 2: Whatever you've got, put it out there.

"From every indication I've seen, from the moment this scandal broke until now, there's no attempt to cover anything over," U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told NBC.

Rule 3: Information is the coin of the realm in Washington - keep in touch.

Members of Congress filled the Sunday talk shows with information they got directly from the director. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, said she had spoken with Sullivan the night before.

And don't forget the boss.

"The president has confidence in Director Sullivan and the agency," David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign communications director, said Sunday.

It's the worst Secret Service scandal in history. The president's security might not have been compromised, but it certainly could have been.