By Naveen Athrappully
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday, questioning why the agency has not yet provided protection to 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“On July 21, 2023, you made the executive decision to deny Secret Service protection to Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr. after eighty-eight days of failing to respond to his either formal request for protection, or follow-ups by his campaign,” said the Oct. 16 letter. “This delay represents a stark departure from the standard fourteen-day turnaround for this type of request.”
He cited an incident in September when an armed man impersonating a U.S. marshal was arrested at one of Mr. Kennedy’s events in Los Angeles.
“This near assassination attempt hardly came as a surprise given that Mr. Kennedy’s original request for Secret Service protection included a sixty-seven page report from a leading private security firm detailing a myriad of unique and well-established safety risks,” the letter said.
Secret Service Assessment
On Sept. 29, two weeks after the Los Angeles incident, government accountability organization Judicial Watch received 11 pages of Secret Service records that detailed its denial of Mr. Kennedy’s protection request.
The report stated that Mr. Kennedy received several threats from “known subjects” and that he is at a higher “risk for adverse attention.” A Secret Service assessment cited several security threats to Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Cruz noted.
In a letter sent to the hotel where Mr. Kennedy announced his presidential run, an individual said he wanted to “discuss their sins” with Mr. Kennedy and that a “madman” may commit a “serious terrorist act.” Another individual regularly sends Mr. Kennedy threatening emails, stating that he will “bury” Mr. Kennedy, that “everyone will die,” and that he will make Mr. Kennedy “suffer.”
“Further complicating matters, the assessment also revealed the Secret Service’s own concession that Mr. Kennedy is likely at risk of assassination ‘for no other reason than [the mere fact] that he is a Kennedy,’” Mr. Cruz stated.
The Secret Service went on to claim that it was aware Mr. Kennedy received “increased media attention” for accusing the CIA of assassinating his uncle, President John F. Kennedy; for advocating for the release of the person who is imprisoned for assassinating his father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; and for speaking out against COVID-19 vaccines.
“I ask that you act swiftly to provide this major presidential candidate the protection that his exceptional circumstances so clearly warrant,” Mr. Cruz wrote.
In the letter, Mr. Cruz asked the DHS to explain its “exceptionally delayed action and inexplicable refusal” to provide security to Mr. Kennedy despite the “extraordinary threats” he faces.
The senator gave the agency until Oct. 31 to respond.
Extra Protection for Candidates
According to U.S. law, the Secret Service is obliged to provide protections to “major presidential and vice presidential candidates” as well as their spouses “within 120 days of the general Presidential election.”
The authority to decide who qualifies as a “major” candidate lies with the DHS secretary, who must consult with an advisory committee of Senate and House leadership.
Mr. Cruz pointed out that previous major presidential candidates such as Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Ted Kennedy all received Secret Service protection well over 120 days before the general election, “setting a clear precedent for exceptions to the general rule as provided by law.”
“Was then-Senator Obama under more threat during his campaign than Mr. Kennedy is today?” the letter asked.
Even though 120 days of a presidential election is the general threshold for granting Secret Service protection, candidates have been provided protection much earlier.
The Trump administration approved Secret Service protection for Joe Biden 221 days earlier than required. President Obama, then a U.S. senator, was approved for protection almost two years before the election, for the first time in history.
In a post on X, Mr. Kennedy said that he was the “first presidential candidate in history to whom the White House has denied a request for protection.”
Mr. Cruz’s letter comes not long after Mr. Kennedy’s announcement that he will be running as an independent, rather than a Democrat.
“I’m here to join you in making a new Declaration of Independence for our entire nation,” he said to a crowd in Philadelphia on Oct. 9.
“We declare independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them, and the entire rigged system of rancor, of rage, of corruption, of lies, that has turned government officials into indentured servants for their corporate bosses.”
Jeff Louderback contributed to this report.