Nearly 900 Secret Service employees got COVID
Nearly 900 Secret Service employees tested positive for COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and March 9, 2021, according to government records obtained by CREW. The vast majority served in protection jobs, either as Special Agents or in the Uniformed Division.
The records obtained by CREW show that in the first year of the pandemic, 881 active Secret Service employees were diagnosed with COVID. The list consists of 477 Special Agents, 249 members of the Uniformed Division, 131 working in Administrative, Professional, Technical Positions, 12 Investigative Protection Officers and 12 Technical Security Investigators. The records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, do not include the names or assignments of those who tested positive.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service Special Agents “are the elite agents you see protecting the President and Vice President. They also protect the leaders of other countries when they visit the US, the President’s and Vice President’s family members, Presidential candidates who are running for election,” while agents in the Uniformed Division protect “the White House, the Vice President’s house, the Treasury Department, and foreign embassies in Washington, DC. Some Uniformed Division agents travel with the President, Vice President and foreign leaders to special events around the country.”
Throughout the pandemic, then-President and Vice President Trump and Pence held large-scale rallies against public health guidelines, and Trump and his family made repeated protected trips to Trump-branded properties which the then-president was making millions of dollars a year from. Trump even put on a photo-op in a car with Secret Service agents while being treated for COVID, further putting agents in danger. While there have been reports of Trump’s Secret Service struggling with coronavirus cases, the number is far greater than had previously been known.
Due to personal privacy reasons, we do not know whom the special agents who tested positive were assigned to protect or when, exactly, they tested positive. CREW previously got the cost for Secret Service protection when Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump traveled to the Trump golf course in Bedminster, NJ in April 2020 despite government guidance against unnecessary travel to slow the spread of coronavirus. However, the number of Secret Service agents put at risk was withheld from the information. When the coronavirus was at its peak last December, Pence took a ski trip to Vail costing taxpayers more than $750,000 in Secret Service bills and putting at least 48 agents at risk of infection.
DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, a Trump appointee, reportedly blocked a proposed inquiry that “would have examined Secret Service policies for handling the threat of COVID-19 to agents protecting high-level officials including the president.” The decision appears to have been part of a broader trend by the Inspector General of refusing to pursue investigations that could be damaging to Trump. Cuffari remains in office.
It’s impossible to overstate the risk the Trump administration put on Secret Service agents. Trump and his adult children’s constant visits to Trump properties stretched the agency thin, as the Trump family was taking twelve times more protected trips as the Obama family did. With the pandemic raging during the campaign, Trump appeared to be deliberately putting the lives of Secret Service agents at risk in order to portray himself as tougher than the coronavirus. Due to the Inspector General’s unwillingness to investigate the matter, we do not know how many Secret Service agents got the coronavirus due to the callous behavior of the Trump administration, but we do know that way more got it than the government had previously let be known.