The US Secret Service has been planning to bring back to the White House a group of agents that previously worked with President-elect Joe Biden when he was vice president to fill out his security detail, a law enforcement source confirmed to CNN.
It’s not uncommon for the presidential detail to change agents who are familiar with the new president, the source said, but these moves, which have been in place for several weeks, come at a time of considerable political tension as President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim that his second term is being stolen while Biden prepares to take office.
The staffing changes, first reported by The Washington Post, also come amid concern from Biden allies about the political loyalty of some current agents to Trump, two people familiar with the situation told the newspaper. Some presidential detail members even encouraged other agents not to wear face masks this year, the Post reported, out of loyalty to the President, who didn’t like the way they looked.
A former Secret Service executive told the Post the staffing changes were a “smart” decision in order to “give the incoming president the comfort of the familiar.”
“You want him to be with people he knows and trusts, and who also know how he operates,” the person said.
Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan told the newspaper the agency “is uniquely authorized to provide protection to designated U.S. and other world leaders and remains steadfastly dedicated to a standard of excellence in those operations, wholly apolitically and unaffiliated with the political parties of protectees.”
“As a matter of practice and due to operational security, the agency does not comment on protective operations inclusive of internal decisions on agency assignments,” she added.
The White House and the Biden transition declined to comment to the Post.
Biden took the first step to formally request Secret Service protection after protesters stormed the stage at one of his rallies.
He was just minutes into a speech when two women rushed toward the podium where he was celebrating his Super Tuesday wins. The first woman was grabbed by Biden’s private security guard and led offstage.
Seconds later, the second woman climbed onto the stage and Jill Biden put herself between the protester and her husband. Symone Sanders, a senior campaign adviser at the time, charged onto the platform and hauled the protester off the stage.
In an interview with NBC News at the time, Biden said “it’s becoming increasingly” clear that protection would be necessary.
“I think that that’s something that has to be considered the more outrageous it becomes,” he said.
He received protection in March, CNN reported. Former vice presidents receive protection for six months after they leave office, which means Biden’s Secret Service protection ended had ended in mid-2017. Before that, he consistently had private security nearby, and larger venues for campaign rallies often had local police or private security on hand as well.
In early November – after the election but ahead of his projected victory – the Secret Service sent more agents to Wilmington, Delaware, in anticipation of his presidential win.