Why Doesn’t Kellyanne Conway Have Secret Service Protection? The Times Have Changed
Despite her cable news performances defending "alternative facts" and using flash cards to defend the campaign's potential Russia ties, Kellyanne Conway will no longer receive Secret Service protection, several news outlets reported on Tuesday. Someone in her position, senior adviser to the president, would not normally receive protection, but after Conway received threats toward the beginning of the administration, she got a detail.
Now the threat assessment against her does not warrant the extra precaution, officials told The New York Times. Dropping Conway will open up resources that are in high demand at the agency given the large number of Trump's immediate family members that do receive protection and the number of activities that they do. The Secret Service said in August that they had already used the allocated budget to protect Trump and his families for the whole year; they have to go along for every business trip and vacation. Some 1,000 agents had already hit their salary and overtime caps with months left to go in the year.
Conway is not the only one who is making things easier on the Secret Service. Donald Trump, Jr., has decided to forgo his protection so that he can have more privacy, The Times reported. His wife, Vanessa Trump, also won't be receiving a protection detail, Fox News said. It's not clear whether their children will or won't.
This is something that the Secret Service generally can't control because it's written into law that the immediate family of the president must be protected unless they're told otherwise (as opposed to Conway who was just White House staff). "The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,’’ Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today in August. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility." Trump Jr., on the other hand, can.
The Times noted that Trump Jr. is an "avid camper and hunter" when it explained his desire to free himself of the group of agents who currently follow his every move. He won't completely free himself of agents, though, because when he goes to work at Trump Tower, there will still be a large presence. The tower is Trump's permanent residence and therefore receives constant protection. Ironically, a rent dispute between the Trump Organization and the Secret Service ended up relocating agents from the floor below Trump's house to a trailer on the sidewalk outside. The agency does save money as a result.
One of the reasons, according to Rich Staropoli, a former member of the administration and the Secret Service, told The Washington Post that Trump Jr.'s children didn't like having a rotating group of agents constantly coming and going. "Every few weeks they get new people,” Staropoli told The Post. “There are all these new people coming and going. The kids don’t like that. They can’t get comfortable with someone they don’t know.”
None of this can be confirmed with the Secret Service because they don't officially say who and who is not under their protection, for everyone's safety. "To ensure the safety and security of our protectees and their families, we will not confirm who is currently receiving Secret Service protection," the agency's spokesperson told The Times.
As for pure numbers, the the Trump Administration does have more people under protection than there were under the Obama Administration. Trump has 42 people under around-the-clock protection, whereas Obama had just 31. Of Trump's 42, 18 of them are family members.
There doesn't seem to be a downside to taking Secret Service protection off Conway — assuming there are no longer threats against her — but some security analysts question the wisdom of Trump Jr.'s decision. Jonathan Wackrow, a former member of Obama's detail called it "shocking," according to The Post. Keeping the administration and Trump's family safe must not be taken lightly.