Washington – Members of President Donald Trump’s family are posing major difficulties to the secret service assigned their protection during their constant travels between New York, Washington, and their Florida resort.
Between the convoys of large SUVs with tinted windows, the 24 hours protection of Trump Tower in Manhattan, the president, his wife Melania, five children – the secret service is resulting in a very expensive bill.
To complicate things further, the entire security operation is made difficult by Trump himself, who takes pride in being unpredictable.
Counter-terrorism expert James Reese told AFP that with such an unorthodox president, the bodyguard ranks have had to be beefed up to ensure his protection.
“To do this job as well as they do, they need planned breaks so their situational awareness and alertness is always at the cutting edge,” Reese added.
Secret service’s job is made even more difficult given the fact that Trump’s family doesn’t live in one place. Trump’s wife Melania has chosen to remain with their 11-year-old son Barron in their penthouse in New York. The guards also drive Barron to school and back every day.
Ivanka, Trump’s most famous daughters, has relocated with her husband Jared Kushner and their three children to a mansion in the affluent Kalorama neighborhood in Washington. They receive a 24-hour guard and a motorcade whenever they head to the White House.
Trump’s grown sons Eric and Don Jr, who have taken control of the family’s real estate empire, also get constant protection, especially during their travels.
His daughter Tiffany also has a security detail.
For example, a simple trip Eric made to Uruguay in January cost American taxpayers $100,000.
In February, the two brothers travelled to Vancouver to inaugurate a new hotel, accompanied by their spouses and sister Tiffany. They went to Dubai to open a golf course. Before that, Eric visited a tourist project in the Dominican Republic.
Don, Eric and Ivanka took their families last month to the Rocky Mountain resort of Aspen, Colorado, for a ski break, which cost the Secret Service spent $4,030 for limousines and $11,261 for hotel rooms, according to CBS television.
According to New York Times, the secret service increased their members 40 percent with a noncampaign year.
Representative Jason Chaffetz said that the secret services are flat-out worn out. Chaffetz is also the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, gave an analogy: “It’s like being on a bike that you never get off of.”
A recent investigation revealed, the Secret Service is asking for an extra $60 million for the coming year for the extra cost of protecting the Trumps.
The security has to rent their own work space in Trump Tower, and golf carts to use for patrols whenever Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago.
Mar-a-Lago was built in the 1920s, and is considered a security nightmare for the complicated logistic procedures it requires, especially that it is serviced by one road that frequently gets jammed with traffic.
That means a larger Secret Service detachment, bolstered by the local police, and Coast Guard patrols offshore on both sides.
“The major challenge is the size of the complex,” said Reese. He added that it was not built to the standards that are used to protect presidents.
Former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Douglas Smith explained that the presidential retreat in Camp David is remote and much easier to defend than a publicly accessible facility in the heart of Palm Beach.
The government has not revealed how much all this is costing, but it is certainly considerable given that one trip to Palm Beach in 2013 by former President Obama cost $3 million.
But Reese wars against comparisons where he explained that the budget is always changing and the Secret Service must be fluid and flexible with a president who is rewriting the rules day to day.