Secret Service publicly contradicts Trump claims (again)

If Team Trump would stop peddling nonsense regarding the Secret Service, the Secret Service probably wouldn't have to set the record straight so frequently
Image: Bernie Sanders campaigns Secret Service
Agents of the US Secret Service look out into the crowd as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanderspeaks during a rally at Daniel Webster Community College, in Nashua, N.H., on Feb. 8.MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA
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By Steve Benen

Early Saturday morning, Donald Trump began the day tweeting about the unrest around the White House the night before. The president praised the U.S. Secret Service, adding, "I was inside, watched every move, and couldn't have felt more safe."

It was a curious message: Americans may be understandably anxious about the pandemic, the economy, and social unrest, but Trump wants everyone to know he's not worried about himself. (If overnight reporting is correct, and the president was brought to a bunker last night as a precautionary measure, his posture likely changed.)

But as part of the same Saturday morning Twitter thread, Trump kept going, claiming that "many" Secret Service agents were "just waiting for action." Quoting an unnamed person, who may or may not exist, the president added, "We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and good practice."

Trump went on to say that Muriel Bowser, the mayor of the District of Columbia, "wouldn't let" local police respond to the unrest near the White House.

It was about four hours later when the Secret Service issued a press release saying largely the opposite.

"The Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police were on the scene."

As for assertions that agents were eager for a violent confrontation with protestors, the Secret Service's official statement seemed to dismiss this, too.

"Some of the demonstrators were violent, assaulting Secret Service Officers and Special Agents with bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks, and other items. Multiple Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers and Special Agents sustained injuries from this violence. The Secret Service respects the right to assemble, and we ask that individuals do so peacefully for the safety of all."

To be sure, the Secret Service tends to operate with great care when it comes to political disputes, and Saturday's statement made no specific references to the president. But the context was striking: Trump claimed in the early morning that D.C. police were not permitted to address unrest around the White House, and the Secret Service made clear in the late morning that D.C. police "were on the scene."

This comes up from time to time. In 2017, for example, a leading member of Trump's legal team tried to blame the Secret Service for the infamous 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked attorney, prompting the Secret Service to make a rare entry into a political debate in order to defend the agents' actions.

More recently, in April 2020, White House officials tried to force a CNN reporter to the back of the press briefing room, and when CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins resisted, she was told the matter would be resolved by the Secret Service.

Soon after, the Secret Service told the White House Correspondents' Association that the agency was "not involved whatsoever in this effort."

If Team Trump would stop peddling nonsense regarding the Secret Service, the Secret Service probably wouldn't have to set the record straight quite so frequently.