By Jeff Louderback
The Trump administration in 2020 provided Secret Service protection for Joe Biden during his run for the presidency, but President Biden has yet to authorize the same security for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Gavin de Becker pointed out in a video he released on X on Sept. 21.
Mr. de Becker’s company, Gavin de Becker and Associates, is providing private security services for Mr. Kennedy as the candidate challenges President Biden for the 2024 Democrat presidential nomination.
Mr. de Becker is a three-time presidential appointee, served two terms on the President’s Advisory Board at the Department of Justice, and is considered an expert on security for elected officials and public figures.
Since 1968, U.S. presidential candidates have received Secret Service protection after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy’s father, was assassinated at a campaign event in California, Mr. de Becker explained.
Mr. Kennedy said that, in July, his request for Secret Service protection as a presidential candidate was denied by the Department of Homeland Security.
“For the first time ever, right now, a sitting president has refused formal protection requests from a rival candidate,” Mr. De Becker said.
The U.S. Secret Service is tasked to provide protection to “major presidential and vice presidential candidates and, within 120 days of the general Presidential election, the spouses of such candidates,” according to U.S. law under ”18 USC 3056A,”
DHS secretary, currently Alejandro Mayorkas, is tasked with identifying “major” candidates in a presidential race by consulting with the speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and one additional member selected by the other members of the committee.
Mr. Kennedy said that Mr. Mayorkas sent him a message in July that read, “I have determined that Secret Service protection for Robert F Kennedy Jr is not warranted at this time.”
DHS has not commented on its decision.
In early August, Mr. Kennedy again called for the Biden administration to provide protection after one of Ecuador’s presidential candidates, Fernando Villavicencio, was assassinated.
“Mr. Kennedy has met all criteria for protection. The only conceivable reason he is being denied is because of a conscious decision by the White House to deny him security and damn the consequences,” Dennis Kucinich, a former Congressman from Ohio who serves as Mr. Kennedy’s campaign manager, said after Mr. Villavicencio’s assassination.
Mr. Kennedy said that his July request “included a 67-page report detailing unique and well-established security and safety risks aside from commonplace death threats.”
Mr. de Becker noted that “every single administration, going back 55 years, has approved early Secret Service protection for candidates far earlier than 120 days before the election.”
“The Carter administration, as an example, provided early protection to five rival candidates and that was more than 600 days before the election. In fact, three different administrations provided early Secret Service protection for Bobby’s uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. One time it was 440 days prior to the election, and twice when he hadn’t even confirmed that he was running, the Nixon administration provided early protection for his opponents, as did Clinton and the Bush Administration and the Obama administration,” Mr. de Becker continued.
The Trump administration approved Secret Service protection 221 days early in 2020 for Mr. Biden.
Some presidential candidates are given protection early in the primary process, especially if they receive a volume of threats.
Barack Obama was approved for protection in May 2007. This was the first time in history a presidential candidate was given Secret Service protection almost two years before the presidential election.
Hillary Clinton, who was Mr. Obama’s opponent in the Democrat primary, received Secret Service protection since she was a former first lady.
“The Secret Service itself has been helpful and professional and I have no complaint with them. They stand ready to provide the protection, but the Biden administration says no,” Mr. de Becker added.
Last week, an armed man carrying a loaded pistol posed as a federal law enforcement officer at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles before Mr. Kennedy delivered a speech about Hispanic Heritage Month.
Adrian Paul Aispuro, 44, was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and initially booked on a felony gun charge on Sept. 15, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Information Center.
The office of the city attorney said that Mr. Aispuro was charged with carrying a loaded firearm, carrying a concealed firearm, and impersonating an officer, all misdemeanors.
Mr. Aispuro claimed to be part of Mr. Kennedy’s security team, and implored members of Mr. De Becker’s security firm to immediately take him to the candidate.
Security officials observed that Mr. Aispuro had a handgun, removed him from the area, and surrounded him.
“LAPD was called and we handed over custody when the police arrived, and the man was arrested. In his backpack, which we screened for explosives. were more handguns, knives and extra ammunition,” Mr. de Becker explained.
In a post on X, Mr. Kennedy thanked police and his security team for their prompt response in handling the situation and ensuring his safety.
“I’m still entertaining a hope that President Biden will allow me Secret Service protection. I am the first presidential candidate in history to whom the White House has denied a request for protection,” he added.
Mr. Kennedy’s father, Robert F. Kennedy, was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after a campaign speech on June 5, 1968, and pronounced dead the following day.
The Sept. 15 incident at Wilshire Ebell Theater was less than two miles from where the assassination took place.
Overall, Mr. Kennedy has filed two requests for Secret Service protection, and both have been rejected. The campaign plans to apply a third time this month.
On Sept. 18, Mr. Kucinich sent a letter to President Biden urging him to authorize Secret Service protection for the candidate.
“The threat level to our candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is increasing every day. He is not the only one in danger – every person who attends a campaign event is at risk,” Mr. Kucinich wrote.
“A specter of violence haunts our political process. Indeed, political assassinations pose a grave threat to democracy. It is not hard to imagine the civil chaos and political disintegration that could ensue with the return of the kind of assassinations of public officials and presidential candidates that marred the 1960s,” he added.
Mr. Kucinich noted, “It is astonishing that under such circumstances, you would deny Secret Service coverage to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has polled more than 20 percent in the first five primary states, and whose net favorability rating exceeds both yours and Donald Trump’s.”
He also reminded President Biden of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.
Near the end of the letter, Mr. Kucinich remarked that President Biden joined him on the campaign trail “in one of two efforts I made to gain the Democratic nomination” and that the two have known each other for 50 years.
“I know that you do not want to see America reeling again from the consequences of another political assassination. Therefore, I ask you in the spirit of patriotism, of fairness, and of good conscience to grant Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. the Secret Service protection that his circumstances so obviously warrant,” Mr. Kucinich wrote.