INDEPENDENT . Thu, December 31, 2020, 10:50 AM GMT+1
The Secret Service is planning to make changes to the presidential security detail before president-elect Joe Biden comes to power, amid rising concerns that some current personnel may be Donald Trump loyalists.
It is not unusual for the agency responsible for the president’s personal safety to make staff changes during the transition period.
However, according to a report by the Washington Post, there are particular fears this time around that some agents may be unusually politically “aligned” to the incumbent. This has become particularly pronounced as the Biden transition team has complained of hurdles put up by outgoing officials across the administration.
During the pandemic, several media reports have highlighted incidents where a number of Mr Trump’s security team failed to wear masks at his public events. A number tested positive for the virus in November, after the president was himself infected.
The Secret Service office also attracted scrutiny after it took the unprecedented decision to allow Anthony Ornato, who previously headed up the current administration’s detail, to serve as a political adviser in the White House.
The Post reported that Mr Ornato will be leaving the White House along with Mr Trump, and is slated to return to the Secret Service to become the assistant director overseeing the agency’s Rowley Training Center, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the changes.
Those named as likely to return to the service include Darryl Volpicelli, who is expected to become second-in-command of Mr Biden’s detail, and Brian McDonough who will become a senior detail supervisor.
A former Secret Service executive told the Post it was “smart 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,” they added.
There has been no official confirmation from the White House or the agency itself about any changes. In a statement, Secret Service spokesperson Catherine Milhoan said it “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.