President Donald Trump’s private lawyer Jay Sekulow misrepresented the Use of the Secret Service during Sunday morning during an interview ABC’s“This Week” in an attempt to justify Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial interview with a Russian lawyer and also a Russian-American lobbyist,several former and current Secret Service officials told HuffPost.
It has been eight days since The New York Times revealed that Trump’s son fulfilled Russian attorneyNataliaVeselnitskaya. It was confirmed on Friday theRussian-American lobbyistRinat Akhmetshin was present in the meeting.
The assembly has drawn condemnation and concerns on both sides of the aisle because it seems that Trump Jr. colluded with an international power hostile to the United States to look for adverse info regarding his dad’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
In his interview usingABC White House reporter Jon Karl on Saturday, Sekulow, a longtime Trump ally and a part of his private legal group, claimed that if Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin were such concerning figures, the Secret Service should have prevented them from entering Trump Tower. Sekulow made several misleading statements, according to current and past Secret Service officers that spoke to HuffPost.
KARL: But can you take what we heard by the president’s pick to run the FBI, that what should have happened there, you know, a situation where you have representatives of a foreign authorities offering help to — in an election, so that what should have happened is that the FBI should have been notified?
SEKULOW: Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if that was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president needed Secret Service protection in that stage, which raised a question with me.
Trump’s legal group and surrogates were using a range of explanations to push back to the controversy surrounding the assembly, asserting it was not illegal for Trump Jr. to have approved it ; that any effort, irrespective of party, could have accepted such a meeting ; or that nothing of note came out of the assembly, meaning that it shouldn’t be an issue of attention to the media or public.
Some pundits and reporters have speculated that Sekulow shouldn’t even have left the assertion concerning the Secret Service’s function because Trump Jr.’s assembly took placeon June 9, 2016–at that point, only his father had a Secret Service protective detail.
Even though Trump Jr. did not have a protective detail in the time of their assembly, given that Trump’s home, workplace and effort office were in exactly the identical area, the Secret Service did consider all of those spaces to become a part of their screening oversight to look for physical threat to the offender, according to two sources familiar with the protective posture of their Secret Service at that phase of the effort.
“At that point, we would only screen for physical threats, we weren’t in the point to be in a counterintelligence posture,” Jonathan Wackrow, also a 14-year veteran of the Secret Service, who served on former President Barack Obama’s detail, told HuffPost.
The Secret Service was running physical tests (magnetometers) for anyone entering Trump’s office area and apartment (with some exceptions), but they were only checking names of people meeting with his father and those titles were only checked to make sure that they would not have introduced a physical hazard to Trump (for instance, a prior conviction for assault), not a possible counterintelligence threat. Had Trump Jr. met with Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin outside of Trump Tower they would not have been exposed to some screening at all.
At this point, we would only screen for physical threats, we weren’t in the point to be in a counterintelligence posture. Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year veteran of the Secret Service
“Donald Trump, Jr. wasn’t a protectee of this USSS in June, 2016. Thus we wouldn’t have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time,” a Secret Service spokesman said in a statement to HuffPost, speaking to this counterintelligence screenings or criminal background checks.
Sekulow’s assertion that the Secret Service could have prevented someone “nefarious” from entering Trump Tower is misleading because it assumes the agents’ role in protecting applicants is the same as protecting officials. The Secret Service only has authority to physically stop a person from entering a safe area of their president or vice president of the United States. Even if the Secret Service felt someone presented a physical threat to offender Trump (later screening their name) they could never have stopped him or her from entering Trump Tower if Trump, his Loved Ones, or his campaign staff disregarded the concerns of their Secret Service.
With respect to Trump, he’s president, that the screening of individuals who’ll be in his proximity is a lot more rigorous. Any person coming in proximity of this president is exposed to what is known as an “arms-reach-of-the-president,” or an ARP, assess. In that screening the Secret Service will perform a background check by all of the intelligence databases anyone which will be in precisely the identical area as the president for a meeting or a reception where they’ll be photographed with the president.
For instance, if the White House is holding out a diplomatic reception with the president, the guest list will be conducted through an ARP check. If a businessman invited to this reception would be flagged as a famous Russian state safetyofficer,their name will be flagged for the highest level of White House employees and a decision will be made if they need to be allowed to attend.
But that degree of scrutiny is just allowed for the president of the United States. Even though Trump Jr. has his very own Secret Service protective detail today (as do all of the Trump children and grandparents), people he met with weren’t screened for counterintelligence functions.