Donald Trump Jr. has abruptly ordered the Secret Service to stop protecting him and his wife, while he has been accused of being deceptive in the congressional Russia investigation and an associate faces an indictment threat.
A former Secret Service agent who protected the president says Donald Trump Jr.’s sudden decision to ditch his protective detail is “negligent” and “shocking,” and that the decision “poses great danger to him and to his family.”
The abrupt decision comes as Trump Jr. is deeply involved in ongoing Russia scandal investigations. During the election, Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with Russian officials to try to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was recently revealed that prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller told former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was also part of that meeting, that he should prepare for indictment.
The New York Times reported that Trump Jr. “was said to be seeking more privacy” in his decision to cut out his security detail, even though it is always offered to the immediate family of the current president.
The Times notes that the agency is “required by law to provide round-the-clock security unless it is told not to and typically errs on the side of caution.”
Trump Jr.’s siblings Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron, as well as Donald Trump’s grandchildren, will continue to receive protection from the storied agency.
Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who served on the Presidential Protection Division during the Obama presidency and who is now a law enforcement analyst for CNN, told the Washington Post, “In today’s global risk environment, waiving this detail poses great danger to him and to his family,” adding, “What he is becoming potentially is a target of opportunity.”
CNN reports that Trump Jr. requested to travel without his protective detail when he vacationed in Nassau, Bahamas, in June, and traveled aboard a yacht for several days without the agents.
The unusual decision comes at the same time that Trump Jr.’s role in the administration’s Russia election scandal is being increasingly scrutinized.
He recently testified behind closed doors to the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussing his role in setting up the now infamous meeting with Russian operatives offering campaign dirt on Clinton.
At the conclusion of that closed-door meeting, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) tweeted, “A statute to keep in mind in regards to Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony today,” along with a picture of the text of a criminal statute outlining the punishment for lying before Congress.
Discussing the events, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell remarked, “It seems like someone doesn’t want the Secret Service following them around everywhere they go.”