Apr 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Report: Watchdog blocked inquiry on Secret Service conduct during Trump administration

trump in front of the church

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Despite recommendations from career staff, a federal watchdog for the Secret Service last year declined to take up probes into the agency's handling of Black Lives Matter protests in D.C., and on the spread of COVID-19 among Secret Service members, according to the Project On Government Oversight.

Flashback: Law enforcement agencies used tear gas and physical force to remove protestors from Lafayette Square last year, allowing the Secret Service to take then-President Trump across the street to a photo-op in front of a church.

What we know: Department of Homeland Security inspector general Joseph Cuffari rejected a recommendation by career staff to look into Secret Service's role in the incident.

  • Cuffari also declined to investigate Secret Service protocols on COVID-19 and how they apply to agents and officers who are in close proximity to the president.
  • "An investigation would also likely have examined Secret Service protocols last October when Trump, presumably still contagious with COVID-19, ignored medical advice and rode around waving to supporters from a presidential SUV as Secret Service agents were sealed inside with him," POGO notes.

What they're saying: “Our office does not have the resources to approve every oversight proposal,” a spokesperson for Cuffari’s office told POGO.

  • “We have to make tough strategic decisions about how to best use our resources for greatest impact across the Department. In both of these cases, we determined that resources would have a higher impact elsewhere.”

Of note: Cuffari still holds his role three months into the Biden administration.

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