Trump could set new precedent with private security force

In an unprecedented move, President-elect Donald Trump continues to employ a private security and intelligence team and is expected to keep some members of the team after his inauguration. 

Lisa Powell/Dayton Daily News/AP/File
Security personnel surround Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after a man rushed the stage during a campaign rally at the Wright Brothers Aero Hangar at Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio, on March 12.

President-elect Donald Trump is breaking with tradition yet again, this time by retaining his own private security force. 

In what security experts are calling an unprecedented move, Mr. Trump has continued to employ a private security and intelligence team at his post-election "thank you" rallies around the country and is expected to keep at least some members of the team after his inauguration, according to Politico. He's said to be the first president or president-elect in modern history to do so, as all others have relied solely on the Secret Service for personal security and local law enforcement for event security.

The decision has come under fire from some security experts who say that using private security personnel may be a risky move that could hurt both the president-elect and his team as well as protesters. Over the course of Trump's campaign, dozens of protesters have accused his private security personnel at rallies of racial profiling, undue force, or aggression, with three lawsuits currently pending against Trump, his campaign, or its security. Meanwhile, some Trump supporters have applauded the move as a sign of Trump's loyalty and commitment to shaking things up in Washington. 

"It’s playing with fire," Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who worked on President Obama’s protective detail during his 2012 reelection campaign, told Politico. Having a private security team working events with Secret Service, he continued, "increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk."

The president-elect's campaign spent more than $1 million on private security, compared to the $360,000 spent by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign, according to Federal Election Commission reports. While most presidential candidates typically stop using private security once they are granted Secret Service protection, Trump’s spending on private security has actually increased since he was granted Secret Service protection in November 2015. 

Trump's choice to keep his private security personnel around highlights his deep sense of loyalty, and has been applauded by supporters as a reflection of his campaign promises to bring outsiders into the White House.

"I implore you Donald to use the people you trust," writes one commenter on conservative news site Breitbart. "Our government officials have proven they can't be trusted." 

But critics see that loyalty very differently.

"The prospect of the American president retaining a personal security force that specializes in targeting dissenters is unsettling for fairly obvious reasons," writes Eric Levitz for New York Magazine. "But the move is concerning even if one stipulates that the team will be used exclusively as an anodyne adjunct to the next president’s security detail, as it illustrates the depth of Trump’s preference for loyalty over expertise. In this context, that preference may threaten Trump’s personal security; in others, it threatens our national one."

While the move has led to widespread speculation over the possible implications of a president with private security, Trump spokesman Jason Miller has said that Politico's coverage of the issue is "blowing it out of proportion," assuring a Wall Street Journal reporter that the Secret Service is primarily responsible for the president-elect's safety.  

"Of course, President-elect Trump is going to continue to be surrounded by longtime allies and advisers and in the case of Keith Schiller [Trump's director of security], someone who has been an absolute fantastic ally, both in business and on the campaign trail, someone who literally and figuratively has been there to support and defend the president-elect, obviously the main duties of protecting the president-elect and soon to be president are of course carried out by Secret Service, who does a fantastic job," Mr. Miller said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Trump could set new precedent with private security force
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2016/1220/Trump-could-set-new-precedent-with-private-security-force
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe