There was an odd moment a few weeks ago when Jay Sekulow, one of Donald Trump’s top attorneys working on the Russia scandal, raised a new argument about the controversial meeting last year between members of Trump’s inner circle and Russian nationals offering campaign assistance.
“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” Sekulow said, pushing a talking point that hadn’t been presented before.
The argument was bizarre for all sorts of reasons, and it prompted the Secret Service, which very rarely weighs in on political disputes, to make clear that Sekulow’s point was misguided.
What we didn’t know was that this wouldn’t be the last point of contention between Team Trump and the Secret Service. The Washington Post published this surprising piece last night:
The Secret Service has vacated its command post inside Trump Tower in Manhattan following a dispute between the government and President Trump’s company over the terms of a lease for the space, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Previously, the Secret Service had stationed its command post – which houses supervisors and backup agents on standby in case of an emergency – in a Trump Tower unit one floor below the president’s apartment.
But in early July, the post was relocated to a trailer on the sidewalk, more than 50 floors below, a distance that some security experts worry could hamper the agency that protects the president’s home and family.
Though it’s generally difficult to be surprised by Trump-related stories, I’ll concede this is an odd one. The Secret Service – which, for the record, works to protect the lives of the president and his family – had space inside Trump Tower, which it has apparently since lost. According to the Post’s article, there was a “dispute” between the Trump Organization and the agency, which reportedly involved “sticking points” that included “the price and other conditions of the lease.”
In other words, the president’s business couldn’t work out a rental agreement with the Secret Service.
In fact, the two sides apparently don’t even agree on whether they’ll still trying to work something out. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization told the Post that the agency will have to “lease space elsewhere,” while a spokesperson for the Secret Service said it would still like to be in Trump Tower.
That desire is not surprising: not only do Trump’s adult sons work in the building, but the Secret Service protects the president’s permanent residence, even when he’s not in it.
As for the president – who ignored calls for divestment and still owns the building in question – it’s unclear if Donald Trump knows anything about the dispute. It’s an awkward dynamic, as the Post noted, since “Trump’s government” is trying be “a customer of Trump’s business.”
And in this case, it appears Trump’s business wants Trump’s agency to give the former more money in order to keep Trump’s interests safe.
Perhaps, given Trump’s vaunted skills as a world-class negotiator, he can intervene and strike a deal?