New book: Being assigned to Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service detail “a form of punishment”

ABC News
Power Players

Top Line

There’s no worse assignment for a Secret Service agent than protecting Hillary Clinton, if claims in a controversial new book are to be believed.

Ronald Kessler’s book, “First Family Detail,” is filled with salacious revelations about the secret personal lives of the nation’s most high-profile political leaders. But the authenticity of those revelations has been called into question over factual inaccuracies in the book, as well as its reliance on anonymous Secret Service agents.

“She is so nasty to agents that being assigned to her detail is considered a form of punishment,” Kessler told “Top Line” of Clinton, who continues to receive Secret Service protection as a former first lady.

“It shines a light on her character,” Kessler said. “She claims to be a champion of the little people, and she's going to help the middle class. And, in fact, she treats these people around her, [who] would lay down their lives for her like sub-humans; and I think voters need to consider that.”

The second-worst Secret Service assignment is Vice President Joe Biden, Kessler said. Though Biden is reportedly “very nice to agents,” Kessler said, his security detail is exhausted from frequent last-minute trips to his home in Delaware, and some are offended by what Kessler writes is a “habit of swimming in his pool nude.”

“He likes to skinny-dip both at the pool at his vice president residence in Washington and his home in Wilmington, and female agents are very offended by that,” Kessler said. “And, in fact, you could make a case that it's almost sexual harassment.”

While most of the allegations contained in Kessler’s book relate to the personal lives of the high-profile individuals whom the Secret Service protects, there is also criticism of the Secret Service itself.

Kessler said that the president’s life has been put at risk by what his anonymous sources tell him are serious security shortfalls within the agency. “Agents tell me that it's a miracle there has not been an assassination, given all this corner-cutting,” Kessler said.

“[An] example in the book is that, when Bradley Cooper went to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a high-ranking Secret Service official told the detail at the Washington Hilton, 'Just let him in with his SUV' – in this secure area where only Secret Service cars are allowed, and even they have to be screened for explosives. He was not screened; someone could have put explosives in.”

But the Secret Service is firing back at Kessler’s claims, with spokesman Ed Donovan calling the book “intellectually lazy and riddled with inaccuracies.”

“We currently dedicate more personnel, funding and technical assets to our protective mission than at any time in our history and our protective measures and methods continue to increase in scope and complexity, not diminish,” Donovan said in a written statement. “Comments attributed to our personnel, current or former, regarding their personal perceptions of Secret Service protectees, are just that – their personal perceptions – and should not be discussed in any forum.”

The book’s accuracy has also been called into question by reviewers outside of the government.

Marc Ambinder, an editor at “This Week” news magazine, wrote a post admonishing Kessler’s book for “weird inaccuracies” that he says “should lead Kessler to question the judgment of some of his own sources.” Asked for a response to Ambinder’s negative review, Kessler rebutted that “every claim that he made was totally wrong.”

Neither the vice president’s office nor Hillary Clinton provided a comment when contacted by “Top Line.” However, the Clintons recently provided a joint-statement to POLITICO to address a slew of new books that are critical of Hillary Clinton.

“With Klein, Halper and [author Ronald] Kessler, we now have a hat trick of despicable actors concocting trashy nonsense for a quick buck, at the expense of anything even remotely resembling the truth,” a joint statement from spokesmen for Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton read, according to POLITICO.

For more of the interview with Kessler, and to hear what he hopes to achieve with this book, check out this episode of “Top Line.”