Answer Man

The Secret Service protects Trump’s kids because they have to

Here's how a presidential candidate can qualify for Secret Service protection

Republican President Donald Trump, his wife and his children are required by law to be protected by the United States Secret Service; however, the kids and his spouse can ask not to be protected.
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Republican President Donald Trump, his wife and his children are required by law to be protected by the United States Secret Service; however, the kids and his spouse can ask not to be protected.

Q: Why does the Secret Service protect the grown children of the president when they do not live with the president?

Tammy Houghland

A: Simple answer: Because they have to if asked. According to federal law, the Secret Service is authorized to protect the sitting U.S. president and vice president (or whoever is next in line) and their immediate families as well as offer lifetime protection for all former U.S. presidents, spouses and children younger than 16.

It is true that while presidents and vice presidents cannot refuse protection while in office, their spouses and adult children can. In fact, some have. For example, Ronald Reagan’s youngest son, Ron, declined protection during his father’s second term. And, in 1985, Richard and Pat Nixon dropped their lifetime protection and hired their own security to save the government money.

But sometimes presidents have asked for extensions. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush sought and received extensions for their children after leaving office, even though the kids were in college. So as long as Trump’s children do not refuse Secret Service protection, it must be provided no matter how old they are.

Some argue it’s money well spent.

“If Eric Trump is traveling and let’s say, God forbid, gets attacked and hurt, killed — imagine the impact, the psychological impact, that would have on the president,” Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who protected Barack Obama’s family, told NPR news. “So by protecting the children, you’re by default protecting the sanctity of the office of the presidency.”

As you obviously know, it doesn’t come cheap. Just last week, the Washington Post reported that the Secret Service was asking for an additional $60 million for the next fiscal year to provide all the services needed to protect the extended Trump family. According to the report, about $27 million would go to protecting Trump Tower, where first lady Melania Trump lives with their youngest son, Barron, while $33 million would pay for travel costs from trips involving Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and visiting heads of state. A recent hotel tab in Uruguay, for example, while guarding Eric and Donald Jr. was estimated at $100,000.

The request for extra money, however, reportedly was nixed by the Office of Management and Budget, which means the Secret Service might have to divert money from other areas, including cybercrime and counterfeit-money investigations.

The Secret Service employs about 6,650 on a budget of more than $2 billion. In 1994, Congress limited protection to 10 years for former presidents after they left office, but reinstated lifetime service in 2013.

Today’s trivia

What is the only state that has an official state bird named for another state?

Answer to Friday’s trivia: Nicknamed “the Roundhouse,” the New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe is the only round state capitol in the United States. When viewed from above, it was reportedly designed to resemble the Zia Indian sun symbol.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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