Trump administration officials have regularly claimed that one reason they stay at Trump-branded properties is because they are easier for the Secret Service to secure.
This week, for example, Vice President Mike Pence justified staying at a Trump-branded hotel in Ireland on the grounds that it makes the Secret Service’s job easier.
“The opportunity to stay at the Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical,” Pence said.
Trump similarly claimed that the Secret Service preferred to hold next year’s G7 summit at the Trump National Doral Miami golf course due to security reasons.
“They came back and they said, ‘This is where we would like to be,’” Trump explained last month. “Now we had military people doing it. We had Secret Service people doing it.”
Secret Service vets have told Politico, however, that there is nothing uniquely secure about staying at Trump properties.
Jonathan Wackrow, a 13-year Secret Service vet who coordinated travel operations under former President Barack Obama, tells Politico that the protocol for securing areas remains the same regardless of how familiar agents are with a particular location.
In fact, Wackrow said it would be irresponsible for the Secret Service to have preferred locations because “if we started to operate under that model, we’d not be following our protective paradigm,” which he described as “a very comprehensive advance process to build a security plan” for each location.”
Donald Mihalek, who served in the Secret Service for 20 years, similarly tells Politico that the agency’s process for locking down locations does not change.
“Although it can be helpful to have protected a location before, even recurring locations of protection, like the U.S. Capitol, go through the same methodology each time due to situational changes,” he says.