Jason Chaffetz says White House intruder was able to "rattle the door handle"

The man who authorities say climbed fences and got onto the White House grounds last week was able to “rattle the door handle,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said Friday.

In an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” the Utah Republican said the breach was a “complete and utter total” failure. He said he spoke to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Friday to discuss the initial findings of the investigation.

“Secretary Kelly told me that this person was there on the ground for 17 minutes, went undetected, was able to get up next to the White House, hide behind a pillar, look through a window, rattle the door handle,” Chaffetz said.

President Trump was inside the White House during the breach, but the intruder, who was identified as 26-year-old Jonathan Tran of California, was not able to enter the building.

Asked whether the door that Tran allegedly touched was locked, Chaffetz said, “We don’t know whether it was locked. The intruder did not get into the White House. But to be able to touch the White House, come on.”

In a statement Friday, the Secret Service said that its investigation is ongoing and that it has conducted more than 50 interviews about the incident. It said officials have also reviewed video footage and radio transmissions to determine the timeline of events.

The Secret Service statement confirmed that Tran was on the grounds for 17 minutes. It said that he breached a 5-foot perimeter fence near the Treasury Department at 11:21 p.m. He was then able to scale an 8-foot vehicle gate followed by a 3.5-foot fence near the East Wing of the White House grounds. He was taken into custody at 11:38 p.m.

Chaffetz said he sent a letter to Secret Service Acting Director William Callahan about the incident Friday.

Tran was arrested and charged with entering restricted grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon. Authorities found two cans of Mace on Tran, including one inside his jacket pocket, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Tran was also carrying a U.S. passport, an Apple laptop computer, a book written by Mr. Trump and a letter he had written to the president, the complaint said.

After appearing at a hearing in federal court this week, Tran was allowed to remain free while awaiting trial, but will have to wear a GPS monitor and stay within 100 miles of his hometown.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.