May 18, 2021

Rachel Maddow had Washington Post journalist Carol Leonnig as her guest last night to talk about her new book, "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service." It turned out to be one horror story after another, leaving viewers afraid for the protection of President Biden.

Leonnig talked about how, under Trump, many of the Secret Service went full MAGA and believed the conspiracy theories that the election was stolen.

"You know, if the most elite protection agency in the world is questioning whether or not Biden is president, there is a reason to be concerned, at least on the part of the transition advisers about whether he is safe in their arms. At the end of the day, the Secret Service did change many of the supervisors of that detail, many of them to install people that Joe Biden knew from previous eras from when he was vice president so he would have some comfort of the familiar, comfort of people that had protected him in the past and protected Jill Biden in the past," Leonnig said.

"What was the ultimate disposition of the Secret Service official agent who was moved into the Trump White House to take a political role and then moved right back into the secret service as if he could still then play some sort of nonpartisan technocratic role?" Maddow asked.

"I had known something about that story. I had not known that he had moved back to the Secret Service as an assistant director."

"He's an assistant director for training. He's very close to the director, the current director, Jim Murray. At the president's request, at President Trump's request, he liked his detail leader so much, Tony Ornato, that he asked him to be almost temporarily assigned on a detail as the deputy White House chief of staff. In that role, the deputy chief of staff and former Secret Service leader was key in clearing the Lafayette Park outside the White House for the June 1 march that the president had to show how tough he was and that he was a law and order president prevailing over the protesters of George Floyd's murder.

"He -- that same deputy White House chief of staff was critical in planning the president's rallies as covid spiked. And that ultimately led to 300 Secret Service officers and agents that summer either contracting covid or being exposed to covid so they had to quarantine away from their coworkers. It was sort of an amazing thing. It infuriated so many Secret Service alumni because this is an agency that prides itself on objectivity, political independence.

"As they say in the agency, you know, the people elect them, we just protect them. But in this instance, you had a Secret Service leader working as a political entity and arm of President Trump," Leonnig said.

She also said many agents wore red ties on Election Day to show their support for Trump. Well, many of us noticed Biden's request for his former detail and it turns out he had good reasons.

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