Just under nine months into his father's presidency, you might not have expected to even be asking if Donald Trump Jr. has Secret Service protection. But the question has indeed become pertinent, with reports on Tuesday, Sept. 19, stating Trump Jr.'s desire to voluntarily give up the Secret Service's security. In addition, multiple outlets -- including the Washington Post and the New York Times -- have cited the same reason on behalf of the president's first-born son: a desire for more privacy.
Fox News also corroborated the stories, reporting that the decision to give up added security will extend to Trump Jr.'s wife, Vanessa. It is unclear whether their five children will also not receive Secret Service protection going forward. The New York Times also reports that Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, will also no longer receive protection from the Secret Service.
The news of Trump Jr.'s security request, with an apparent desire to step further away from the spotlight, comes after a summer during which he was squarely in it. In July, a Times report stating that Trump Jr. had arranged a meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer with ties to Russia's government created a suspicion of foul play to which the president's son had to respond, given the multiple investigations being conducted between Congress and the FBI related to Russian interference in the presidential election.
When Trump Jr. did respond, he asserted that the meeting had little to do with the election, saying in a statement to the Times,
It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared (Kushner) and Paul (Manafort) to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.
Later, however, the Times would learn that Trump Jr. accepted the invitation after being enticed by information that was purported to be damaging to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who at the time was of course running against now President Donald Trump.
When the Times contacted Trump Jr. to notify him that it had learned of the premise of the meeting, Trump Jr. then moved to release email conversations that showed he was indeed proposed a meeting that would lead to information harmful to Secretary Clinton.
The emails show that Trump Jr. was specifically offered "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russian and would be very useful to your father." The conversations go on to show that Trump Jr. was also told,
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.
The revelation of the nature of Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer would later become the subject of interest from Congress and Robert Mueller, the special counsel who has been leading the investigation into potential ties between Russian efforts to influence the election and President Trump's campaign. Eventually, Trump Jr. appeared before Senate investigators in September to provide a testimony related to the meeting. For that testimony, Trump Jr. said in a statement, according to the New York Times,
To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out. Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration.
Now, after a summer of scrutiny, practically all of which stems from a meeting that occurred over a year ago, Trump Jr. is desiring more privacy. Asking for the Secret Service to end its round-the-clock protection of him and his wife seems to be a step towards fulfilling that desire.