WASHINGTON (CN) — Teaming up with a nonprofit opponent of government secrecy, two Politico reporters brought a federal complaint to access records on how President Donald Trump’s personal security detail coordinates with the U.S. Secret Service.
“President Trump’s private security personnel have been the subject of continued controversy as they have been accused of using undue force and aggression to remove protestors from campaign events, as well as positioning themselves near the president in a manner that could compromise the abilities of the USSS protective detail,” the complaint, filed Monday in Washington, D.C., states.
Ken Vogel and Josh Gerstein, reporters for Politico, brought the lawsuit with the James Madison Project, a nonpartisan organization that promotes government accountability and transparency, while offering guidance on intelligence, national security and other issues.
On Dec. 26, 2016, the group filed a with the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act, inquiring among other things about “the extent to which concerns have been voiced about the conduct of President Trump’s private security personnel.”
“This FOIA litigation will also seek to reveal whether disciplinary action was taken against USSS agents who were part of President Trump’s USSS protective detail during the Presidential campaign,” the complaint states.
Vogel and Gerstein cite several incidents from the campaign trail, including the tackling of a photographer at a February 2016 event in Radford, Va., and an incident six months later in Pennsylvania where Trump’s running mate Mike Pence left the stage to comfort a young boy, who had begun weeping while posing a question.
The woman’s husband had been part of Trump’s Secret Service protective detail, according to the complaint, which says that the head of Trump’s private
Just 11 years old, the boy was speaking about legislation known as Right to Try, which allows terminally ill patients to try certain experimental therapies that are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Vogel says Pence had left the stage to comfort the child, whose father suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, when Valerie Mihalek, the wife of a Secret Service agent, took the microphone and began speaking on the boy’s behalf about Right to Try legislation.
Mihalek’s husband was a sometimes member of Trump’s Secret Service detail, according to the complaint.
Vogel says Keith Schiller, the head of Trump’s private security personnel, “notified USSS that he viewed Mrs. Mihalek’s comments as inappropriate,” but that it is unclear whether the complaint generated any inquiry or disciplinary action.
The reporters also seek information regarding the background investigations, vetting and physical security training of Trump’s personal-security forces, as well as whether its members will receive “access to USSS equipment, firearms, and/or information in furtherance of their duties.”
Homeland Security did not immediately return a request for comment.
Bradley Moss filed the complaint for the FOIA requesters with the firm Mark S. Zaid PC.
“For too long there have been more questions than answers about how the Secret Service has managed its responsibilities to safeguard the president despite the overlapping presence of these private security personnel,” attorney Moss said in an email. “This FOIA litigation seeks to pull back the curtain and provide some clarity on this issue of public importance.”