The Secret Service will be changing up the agents who are in the presidential detail to protect President-elect Joe Biden. Even though it isn’t rare for agents to change when a new president arrives, this time the shake-up is taking place amid suspicion that some agents are politically aligned with President Donald Trump, reports the Washington Post. To allay any concerns, the Secret Service will be bringing back some of the senior agents whom Biden already knows from his time as vice president.
Several recent incidents have led to questions about the political leanings of agents on the presidential detail. Some, for example, urged agents and Secret Service officers not to wear masks on presidential trips because the president saw them as a sign of weakness. That may have contributed to the way in which more than 130 Secret Service officers either tested positive for the coronavirus or were forced to quarantine because they were in close contact with someone who contracted COVID-19.
In a particularly telling detail of how much at least some agents are aligned with Trump, the previous head of the presidential detail, Anthony Ornato, became White House deputy chief of staff earlier this year. He was key to organizing the photo-op in June in which peaceful protesters were violently cleared out of Lafayette Square so the president could get a photo posing with a Bible. Ornato is now set to return to the Secret Service, although he won’t be involved in protecting the president.
The Secret Service declined to comment on staffing changes but insisted that it is committed to being apolitical. “The U.S. Secret Service 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,” spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan said. “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. ”