Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Secret Service Discloses More Information About Obama Chef Drowning Death

12-13-2023 (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced yesterday that it received 31 pages of records in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit from the Department of Homeland Security that show the identity of the companion of Obama’s chef Tafari Campbell as a woman named “Ms. Taylor,” who reported that “[Campbell] fell in the water and struggled for a couple of seconds before giving up and sinking underwater.” 

The records also show that the Secret Service could not get the first two boats they tried to use to search for Campbell to function and had to use the groundskeeper’s boat. Also, at least one, and possibly multiple, agents from the Secret Service’s Little Rock, Ark., office were involved in the search for Campbell’s body. 

The records were obtained in response to an October 25, 2023, FOIA lawsuit against the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after it failed to respond to an August request for Secret Service video recordings and other records relating to the death of the Obamas’ personal chef, Tafari Campbell, in July 2023 in the Edgartown Great Pond behind the Obamas’ estate on Martha’s Vineyard 

The records include a July 24 report from a Secret Service agent whose name is redacted that reveals the interview details – including the name – of Campbell’s paddleboarding companion: “Ms. Taylor stated that Mr. Campbell was not wearing a life jacket and had no personal flotation devices aboard the paddleboard at the time of the incident.”  

A separate report notes how Campbell’s companion “collapsed on the ground and stated that Tafari had drowned. She stated that he fell in the water and struggled for a couple of seconds before giving up and sinking underwater.” The agent continued, describing how a supervisory agent and another agent “attempted to start one of the boats but had difficulties lowering the motor. I headed down with [redacted] but told her to continue down and yelled to SA [redacted] and SSA [redacted] that I would run to get the keys for our USSS boat. I sprinted to the CP [Command Post], grabbed the keys and sprinted back towards the boats. A similar issue occurred with the motor on the second boat. We jumped into a third boat belonging to the groundskeeper and it worked without issue.” 

The same report notes former President Obama came to the incident scene and the search was paused so President Obama could speak to the eyewitness: 

We continued our search with flashlights. Shortly thereafter we were called to Wilson’s Landing as FPOTUS Obama was there and the local Fire Department in conjunction with Massachusetts Police Department and other local agencies were setting up an Incident Command Post. He had wanted to talk with [redacted]. The first EMS/Police response we saw may have occurred within an hour. I recall seeing a small PD or Fire boat scanning the shoreline just after it was getting dark.  

“It is disturbing that Secret Service boats did not work for this emergency situation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This new information perhaps explains why the Secret Service is still hiding video related to the tragic drowning.”  

In October, Judicial Watch received 40 pages of records from the Massachusetts State Police that indicate the presence of Barack Obama for a witness interview in the death investigation. The records, which are heavily redacted, indicate Barack Obama arrived at the emergency response scene via motorcade. A short time later, a cold, wet woman, who was a witness, arrived. The next morning, the eyewitness was interviewed in the Obama residence, seemingly with Barack Obama again present. The records also detail the existence of a Secret Service video of Campbell and his paddleboarding companion entering the water, and the Secret Service emergency response in the immediate aftermath of the drowning. The State Police records show they concluded “no foul play” in Campbell’s “accidental” death. 

In August 2023, Judicial Watch released records it received from the Edgarton, Mass., Police Department that show the Secret Service reported Campbell missing and that the body was found using sonar. The records also detail that clothing was found separate from the body and that he was not wearing a life vest.  

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