In a 90-minute interview with The Hill, the Republican presidential front-runner pointed out on Tuesday that he has attracted large crowds just like Barack Obama did eight years ago as a White House candidate and that by this point in the 2008 cycle, the Illinois senator had Secret Service protection.
Trump doesn’t, and he’s not happy about it.
“I want to put them on notice because they should have a liability,” he said. “Personally, I think if Obama were doing as well as me he would’ve had Secret Service [earlier]. I have by far the biggest crowds.”
Obama was given Secret Service protection on May 3, 2007. At the time, law enforcement officials acknowledged it was unusually early in the presidential cycle to grant a presidential candidate protection, but also said it was not based on specific threats.
Pressed on details, Trump asked one of his private security officers to describe the discussions the Secret Service has had with his campaign. The talks were described as preliminary, and the Trump camp says the Secret Service had not provided a definitive answer on when — or if — the billionaire businessman will receive government protection.
“They’re in no rush because I’m a Republican,” Trump said jokingly.
It was an off-the-cuff remark he later clarified.
“Of course I don’t think they’d want anything to happen. But I would think they should be very proactive and want protection for somebody like me that has 20,000 people at any time,” Trump said. “You would think that they would want to be very proactive, but we have not heard from them.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said it had not received an official request for protection.
If a request is received, the spokeswoman said, a determination of Secret Service protection would be made after a consultation with an advisory committee including House and Senate leaders from both parties.
Trump reportedly beefed up his private security in July after a purported threat from Mexican drug cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who escaped from prison earlier this year.
A vulgar tweet from a Twitter account thought to belong to the crime boss targeted Trump, who responded by contacting the FBI.
Trump praises his private security detail, but says people have expressed concern to him about his safety. During a speech on Monday in New Hampshire, a handful of private security personnel walked beside the White House hopeful.
Trump’s move to put the Secret Service “on notice” is similar to his threat in July to run a third-party bid. At the time, he told The Hill that if the Republican National Committee (RNC) didn’t play “fairly,” he might launch an independent campaign. The RNC subsequently made peace with Trump, who signed a pledge to back the Republican presidential nominee.
Read more at THE HILL.