Farce Upon Farce: The Aftermath of My Secret Service Request
A tweet I sent informing people of the Biden administration’s decision to deny me Secret Service protection led to a massive outpouring of support for my safety, for which I am so very grateful. Humbled and grateful. After tens of millions of people viewed the tweet, the Huffington Post led the corporate media in giddily reporting a bizarre conspiracy theory suggesting that the tweet contained a series of numbers intended to secretly communicate my alleged affinity for neo-Nazi ideology(!). RFK, Jr.’s Policies + PoliticsRead More
A tweet I sent informing people of the Biden administration’s decision to deny me Secret Service protection led to a massive outpouring of support for my safety, for which I am so very grateful. Humbled and grateful.
After tens of millions of people viewed the tweet, the Huffington Post led the corporate media in giddily reporting a bizarre conspiracy theory suggesting that the tweet contained a series of numbers intended to secretly communicate my alleged affinity for neo-Nazi ideology(!).
Now, as if by magic, the underlying issue of the politicization of the Secret Service has disappeared, subsumed in the media by one of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen.
Only in the twisted and polarized era of information warfare waged by a partisan mainstream media would I even consider rebutting such absurdities. So here very quickly is what happened: The supposedly meaningful numbers in my tweet came from Gavin de Becker, the world’s leading authority on the protection of public figures. His company has been managing my security team since I announced my run for President. He prepared my application to DHS and liaised with Secret Service officials. You can see his views on media lunacy, along with the detailed timeline from which the numbers in question were drawn, in the internal memos I share below.
Now I hope we can return to the actual issue here. After using government resources to censor me, and using government resources to attack me in the White House press room, the Biden administration made the unprecedented decision to deny a political opponent Secret Service protection during a campaign. Even worse, this is part of a larger pattern of politicizing and weaponizing government agencies to serve the faction in power. The DOJ, the IRS, and the FBI have all been turned into tools to harass political opponents. The denial of Secret Service protection is just the latest example. The public’s response to that has been clear, and the public’s concern and care will remain my enduring takeaway.
July 29, 2023
To: Kennedy24 Campaign
From: Gavin de Becker
Regarding: The process of requesting Secret Service protection
Since seeing a few media reports on a truly bizarre projection of meaning into various numbers associated with this process, I’m adding some more numbers to the mix. Though any (or maybe many) of these dates and numbers might also be perceived as meaning something to somebody somewhere, this accurate account of the details associated with requesting Secret Service protection will explain where various numbers actually originated.
I note in all good humor that during my long career, I’ve never seen this kind of attention invested into the truly insignificant details of an important matter.
Apr 18: First discussions between my company and USSS (101 days before finally receiving a decision from DHS)
May 1: First substantive and detailed discussions with USSS about RFK Jr requesting protection. (This was 88 days before the response from Secretary Mayorkas was received, a number into which some people are apparently investing special meaning.)
On this date, I received a very cordial, constructive, and professional presentation from the Secret Service, from which it was determined that our next step was to complete our internal risk assessment, and then submit the pro forma letter.
USSS provided me with a detailed description of the various criteria that would be considered, all of which were already met by RFK Jr.
USSS explained that a request letter should be addressed to the Secretary of DHS, and there would then be “a recording secretary to follow the process.” They explained that a Congressional Advisory Committee would weigh in on the request (leadership from both houses from majority and minority, four people, with a tie-breaker they select).
USSS advised, “The Congressional Committee has 10 days to respond after receiving notice of the letter and a risk assessment done by USSS. Then the Secretary of DHS makes the final decision.” They added, “From request to USSS being curbside can be as little as 14 days.”
We agreed that the campaign would submit the request electronically, first to USSS, and then follow with a “wet signature” to the Secretary of DHS.
Though CNN and other media companies have reported that Secret Service protection is only available 120 days prior to the general election, that is not accurate. USSS advised me that there is no set timeline for receiving protection, and cited candidate Barack Obama receiving protection very early in the process, 551 days before Election Day. RFK Jr’s uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, received early Secret Service protection in 1972, when he wasn’t even an announced candidate. In 1979, the Carter Administration provided Secret Service protection for Ted Kennedy again — 400 days before Election Day. President Nixon and Ted Kennedy were longtime political enemies. Jimmy Carter was a sitting president being challenged by someone in his own party — yet these considerations did not stop either President Nixon or Carter from having the basic decency to realize that there could be all sorts of sociopaths and others looking to be the next Kennedy assassin.
Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson received protection earlier than usual, about 10 weeks before other candidates, John McCain was offered protection more than 500 days before Election Day, and both Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson received protection about a year before Election Day. Sitting administrations also approved early Secret Service protection for Reps Shirley Chisholm and Wilbur Mills, and even provided protection for the notorious segregationist Gov. George Wallace of Alabama. Same for presidential candidates Muskie, Humphrey, and McGovern, all afforded Secret Service much more than 120 days before Election Day.
Among past administrations, the Biden Administration is the sole outlier, acting in a highly unusual way.
USSS advised me: “In my years with Secret Service, I haven’t seen a request declined to date.”
Note: Among the many false and inaccurate media stories, not one provided even a single example of a request for protection from a presidential candidate being turned down.
May 10: USSS sent me some of the criteria that would be considered:
“When determining whether a candidate for the Office of President or Vice President of the United States qualifies as a major candidate, the Secretary has broad discretion and may consider a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
1. Whether the candidate has publicly announced his or her candidacy and has filed the appropriate documentation with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and is in compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, and related laws;
2. Whether the candidate is actively campaigning on a national basis for the office for which his or her candidacy has been announced, as demonstrated by operating a national campaign apparatus, regularly appearing at public events in multiple states, producing and publishing campaign advertisements, and other similar indicia of a campaign;
3. A threat assessment conducted by the Secret Service of general or specific threats directed towards the candidate. (for these purposes, “threats” should be defined as explicit threats of bodily harm to the candidate or indications of inappropriate behavior towards the candidate suggesting potential bodily harm);
4. Whether, during and within an active and competitive major party primary, the most recent average of established national polls, as reflected by the Real Clear Politics National Average or similar mechanism, the candidate is polling at 15% or more for 30 consecutive days;
May 12: USSS connected me with the two special agents who serve as “2024 Campaign Coordinators for Secret Service and will facilitate any future requests for support through appropriate channels.” A date was set for a group follow-up call.
May 13: I sent USSS substantial and detailed information on campaign protection processes to date.
May 16: A 4-person conference call regarding the campaign’s request for protection. USSS notified me that during the 14 days that the request is likely to be pending, USSS would want to meet with RFK Jr regarding the details of their protection process, so that “if the protection is provided, we can all hit the ground running.”
May 16: I submitted a 63-page internal risk assessment to USSS. (The final submission to Secretary Mayorkas would be 67 pages.)
May 17: Text of the letter to Secretary Mayorkas was submitted to USSS.
May 18: USSS confirmed that the letter to Secretary Mayorkas and the internal risk assessment were “Received and passed to the campaign coordinators for awareness.”
On this date, I also wrote to USSS:
“I told RFK Jr about the meeting with USSS that is likely during the waiting period, and he said he looks forward to it. I was hoping it could be while he is on East Coast (easier for everyone) and June 7+ could be great, but that’s not within the 14 days. Do you think the decision process can ever take longer than 14 days, or is there no way.”
May 22: I wrote to USSS:
“Does the 14-day clock start when we the wet-signature request reaches DHS? Or when we email the electronic version to the USSS campaign coordinators?”
“The Secretary’s Office (DHS) initiates/manages the timetables associated with this process upon physical receipt of such requests. The coordinators will work between entities on timing for meetings etc., as well as location pending schedules of all involved.”
Note: While USSS was responsive, professional and helpful throughout, Secretary Mayorkas’ office did not respond at any time to any direct communications that were sent, until the denial letter that was received nearly 3 months after the start of these discussions.
May 26: The campaign sent Secretary Mayorkas the pro forma request letter in wet signature form, along with a declaration from me containing our internal risk assessment.
May 25: A Senior Intelligence Advisor at USSS requested detailed information on a group of specific individuals who had posed security/safety concerns to the candidate.
May 26: Threat assessors from my office provided detailed identifiers on several of the specific individuals who posed a security/safety concern.
May 30: The request letter and risk assessment was received at DHS, delivered by both USPS and FEDEx.
June 1: I sent USSS a copy of the campaign’s protection tenets that had been agreed to by the candidate and the Campaign Chair.
June 2: My office provided details on a complicated upcoming public appearance by the candidate, noting:
“Because the request for USSS coverage is now pending, it’s possible this will be your responsibility in any event, however in case it’s not, I welcome any suggestions or insight based on experience with similar events.”
June 6: I sent a follow-up to USSS:
“My notes have that you wanted that meeting [with the candidate] within 14 days of the request… is that still so?”
June 9: Another written follow-up was sent regarding scheduling the USSS meeting with the candidate.
June 10: USSS responded:
“Once USSS leadership is prepared to meet with the potential candidate, we will reach out to you or your preferred POC to schedule an appropriate date and time. Thank you for your patience.”
June 15: I wrote to USSS:
“It’s been 14 days since DHS receipt of the request. While I dislike pestering, some insight personally or professionally would be helpful. Today we have seven public appearances at different locations around San Francisco, and it’s clear that safety would be enhanced if the candidate’s safety was handled by your shop.”
“I understand of course that the request might be turned down — as of today that’s what I expect — and learning either way would be helpful toward our logistical planning, and the candidate’s safety.”
“It’s clear the process is not proceeding in the usual way (e.g., 14 days, USSS meeting during that period)… none of my business why that’s the case, however would be valuable to gain insight as to what can actually be expected as of now, regardless of the answer.”
A few days later, one of the USSS Campaign Coordinators telephoned me and advised that the typical 14-day period likely began when the wet signature request actually reached Secretary Mayorkas’ desk, as opposed to the date it was received electronically or the date it was received at DHS’ off-site mail-receipt location. USSS also explained that they expected to hear from the Congressional Advisory Committee soon.
July 8: Campaign Chair Dennis Kucinich sent a formal follow-up letter to Secretary Mayorkas, the Speaker of the House, the Minority Leader of the House, and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate.
July 8, 2023
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528Dear Secretary Myorkas
Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Members of the Senate Advisory Committee
I am campaign chair of the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Within 24-hours hours after the assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy, President Johnson directed the Secret Service to provide protection to presidential candidates. Just days later, Secret Service became responsible for the safety of five candidates, and by the end of the 1968 campaign, twelve candidates were protected by USSS. The new responsibility was undertaken to ensure the safety of candidates and others in their vicinity – and to protect the electoral process itself.
Given Mr. Kennedy’s well-established risk as a presidential candidate, our campaign submitted a written request following the formal process. Our request was received at DHS on June 1, 2023. Presidential candidates traditionally hear back within 14 days; it has been more than 30 days since the formal request.
As I write this today, Robert F. Kennedy Jr remains at risk of being harmed in connection with his Presidential campaign – and that risk is escalating.
Many weeks ago, RFK Jr met the criteria for a presidential candidate to receive Secret Service coverage, pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C.’ 3056(a)(7). He polled above the threshold, has been actively campaigning on a national basis, operates a national campaign apparatus, has appeared before thousands of audience members at events in many states, regularly appears as a candidate on national network news programs, town halls, podcasts, interviews, is producing campaign materials, advertisements, and websites, is successfully fundraising, and has assembled a large campaign staff.
We have not heard back from DHS since submitting the request, and I’m concerned that risk to Mr. Kennedy and those around him persists and increases during this waiting period.
I have attached the first request and our initial threat assessment.
July 12: A mentally ill intruder entered the candidate’s home while the candidate was out of the city (no security personnel were present). The intruder was subsequently arrested, after which it was confirmed that he had a history of delusional ideation regarding the candidate, having been arrested a year earlier in a similar approach.
July 13: Email to USSS: “Because it’s possible USSS will someday assume responsibility to protect candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr, I’m sharing some information that would be relevant.” I provided complete details, including the intruder’s criminal history.
July 13: My office provided USSS new information on four other mentally ill pursuers who had made physical approaches in the past. (These four were in addition to the examples in my declaration and risk assessment.)
July 13: A USSS official confirmed receipt of the information on the intruder, and added: “On another note, we hope to have an answer very shortly on the request for USSS protection.”
Note: While USSS was responsive and professional throughout, the campaign had at this point still heard nothing from DHS in the 50 or so days since sending the request letter and the risk assessment.
July 27: The campaign received the DHS letter denying Secret Service protection to RFK Jr. (It was dated July 21, but not sent out until July 24.)
Nearly three months had passed since commencement of this process, and nearly two months since the pro forma letter to Secretary Mayorkas — this for a process we were told typically takes around two weeks. (In this paragraph, I intentionally used months and weeks rather than days in order to avoid the reappearance of any fraught numbers.)
It’s ironic that legacy media organizations are drawing attention to disturbing ideas, and then linking those ideas to unrelated matters, thus giving energy to claims and beliefs in exactly the bizarre way they accuse others of doing — an actual conspiracy theory elevated by those who so often accuse others of this kind of thinking and linking.
Excuse the number pun when I point out that the many inaccurate media reports just don’t add up to anything other than distraction from the administration’s decision to withhold protection for RFK, Jr. — a matter that’s clearly of interest to tens of millions of people who have followed the topic via Twitter and other social media. The numbers mean nothing; the disturbing break with protection precedent means a lot.