WASHINGTON – In the days before he left office, President Donald Trump instructed that his family get the best security available in the world for the next six months at no cost to them – the protection of the U.S. Secret Service.
According to three people briefed on the plan, Trump issued a directive to extend post-presidency Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses, who were not automatically entitled to receive it.
Trump also directed that three key aides leaving government continue to receive the protection for six months: former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, two people familiar with the arrangement said.
Under federal law, Trump, his wife, Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son are the only members of his immediate family entitled to Secret Service protection after they leave office. The couple will receive it for their lifetimes, and Barron is entitled to protection until he turns 16.
Former vice president Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, will also receive continued Secret Service security for the next six months under the same law governing protection.
But Trump wanted every family member who had been protected by the Secret Service during his administration to be covered for six additional months, according to the people familiar with his directive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe security arrangements.
That means the expensive, taxpayer-funded security will continue for daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; son Donald Trump Jr.; son Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump; and daughter Tiffany Trump.
The 24-hour protection will focus on Trump’s grown children, though his grandchildren will receive protection that derives from being in proximity to their parents.
A former Trump White House spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Secret Service also declined to comment, saying the agency does not discuss the individuals it protects.
A president can order Secret Service protection for any person he chooses, but it is highly unusual for a departing president to provide 24-hour security to relatives who are adults long past their college years. It’s unclear what precedent there is for a departing president to extend this same protection to aides after they have left his administration.
Former Trump White House spokesman Judd Deere declined to comment on Trump’s directives before he left office.
Presidents Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush sought extensions to protect their college-age daughters for a short period after they left office. President Barack Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia were also granted a short extension of security after he left office in 2017, when they were in high school and on a gap year from college. A Secret Service official declined to say when that protection ended.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the expansion of Secret Service security, did not respond to inquiries about the threat assessment that prompted the Trump decision.
The perk for the Trump family is expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars and further stress the elite federal security force, which in the past four years had to staff the largest number ever of full-time security details – up to 42 at one point, according to former senior administration officials.
The extension of security for the Trump family comes as the Secret Service has also mobilized protective details for the extended families of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Full-time security teams are being deployed to protect Biden’s two grown children and seven grandchildren, as well as Harris’s two stepchildren.
The Trump family’s protection has been costly for the Secret Service’s budget; his adult children traveled widely across the country and around the world for personal vacations and trips related to the Trump Organization, the family company.
From 2017 to 2019, government records show, Trump family members took more than 4,500 trips that required the Secret Service to travel alongside them, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Video: http://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/trump-departs-white-house-hours-before-bidens-inauguration/2021/01/20/c61de8a6-31b0-4e59-99a9-af2dfcf0e44f_video.html(The Washington Post)
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