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The Secret Service: Country or President?

Former President Donald Trump is guarded by Secret Service agents.

In the wake of multiple scandals involving the United States Secret Service, this latest one has me wondering whether there should be a top-to-bottom investigation of the Service, going forward.

I presume they understand their duties. If what is being reported about the deletion of text messages related to the January 6th investigation is true, their behavior may be criminal.

Let’s take a look:

This most recent scandal involves the alleged disappearance of back-and-forth text messages between Secret Service agents and various members of the Trump administration on or before the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. Furthermore, there are reports that a Trump appointed Inspector General “looked the other way” and decided not to investigate the deleted text messages.

So, here’s my question:

Do you think the United States Secret Service has a duty to not only protect the president, but also protect against the disclosure of presidential behavior, even if it is illegal, immoral, or unethical? Some would argue that there is no conflict between protecting the president and protecting the country.

The argument goes something like this:

The Secret Service’s job is to protect the the president. They may have their own political views—they may agree or disagree with his behavior and/or policies, but their loyalty is to the job. It is in the best interests of the country to deal with presidential shenanigans in private. Did they see something going on in the president’s bedroom? In the Oval Office or a hotel room? Did the president and first lady have a physical altercation? Is this any of our business? If you would take a bullet for the president, wouldn’t you also protect his reputation? Are these duties indistinguishable?

Here’s the oath of office that Secret Service agents take:

I (the president’s name) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Do you see anything in this oath about loyalty to a particular president? Me neither. An agent owes loyalty (by virtue of his/her oath of office) to the country, not to any president. The agent must respect the office of the presidency, regardless of personal or political belief.

While the Secret Service has other functions, its’ most well-know function is presidential protection. It is not to police the president or his family, report his or his family’s misconduct, or otherwise interfere with his public or private life. In the aftermath of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, for instance, it was not the function of the Secret Service to inform the public about the affair.

However, the president is a civil servant, a high-ranking one, perhaps, but a civil servant, nonetheless. There is no conflict; an agent’s duty is to his/her country. Furthermore, as sworn officers of the law, an agent cannot aid and abet the president in engaging in illegal acts. Engaging in an insurrection or conspiring to engage in such activity is a crime.

If Donald Trump committed a criminal act, and agents deleted/destroyed text messages to cover up his involvement, the agents become accomplices, subject to the same criminal charges as the former president. Agents can love the president or hate the president. They can agree with him politically or hate his politics. But they have sworn an oath and must do their jobs, which have nothing to do with politics.

How would Mitch McConnell deal with a progressive Kentucky cop who deliberately failed to stop an assault on the minority leader and then deliberately failed to apprehend the progressive protestor responsible? The cop’s duty is to prevent crime and apprehend criminals, regardless of the politics.

The suggestion that it is somehow okay to delete text messages, especially after being put on notice that these messages were relevant to a congressional investigation is borderline treason. Agents may not betray their country because of their political ideology. If they did so in this case, they belong in prison.

As for Trump, who famously said: “I’m the F*&^% president” and ordered agents to take him to the Capitol as the insurrection unfolded, he has quite often assumed that presidential power is omnipotent. This is because he is a dangerous narcissist, an individual who ran for president for personal gain, and who has limited knowledge of how our democracy functions. His ego inflated his concept of presidential power.

But experienced Secret Service agents know better. Their overriding obligation is to the United States of America, and their role has nothing to do with politics or the individual currently occupying the office. They correctly ignored his order to take him to the Capitol because the risk of bodily harm was significant. They knew their duty and did it. When they incorrectly deleted text messages, apparently to cover-up his presidential misconduct, they knew their duty and shirked it.

Shame on them; I hope they face severe consequences.

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Aug 02, 2022

Let's face it, SS is a huge hole in DHS! They're self-managing, wild west, cronies! They need a clean sweep & new boss! They aren't really Homeland Security, should be under FBI, and assignments rotated every year! Their oath is to US Constitution, NOT A PERSON!

Regards, Rick Comfort


C J Waldron
C J Waldron
Aug 02, 2022

I wrote something similar a few weeks ago.

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