For more than a century, Secret Service agents have taken presidents where they want to go, even if it means putting themselves in front of a bullet. That principle has been tested by President Donald Trump’s desire to get back to work despite a coronavirus infection that could pose a serious threat to those around him, the New York Times reports. On Sunday, a masked Trump climbed into a hermetically sealed vehicle with at least two Secret Service agents covered head to toe in the same personal protective equipment used by doctors so the president could wave to supporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Experts said the move put agents at risk. Secret Service personnel have questioned whether more precautions will be added to protect the detail from the man they have pledged to protect.
On Monday, Trump again endangered agents when he traveled by helicopter back to the White House from the hospital. While agents have volunteered to sacrifice themselves for those they protect, they know that there is a low chance they will need to step in between a gunman and the president. Trump blamed the news media. “I got into a secure vehicle to say thank you to the many fans and supporters who were standing outside of the hospital for many hours, and even days, to pay their respect to their President,” he tweeted. “If I didn’t do it, Media would say RUDE!!!” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, demanded a briefing on safeguards for the protection detail. “The height of reckless disregard for others was the president’s joy ride,” he said. “Exposing Secret Service personnel to the virus does not just put them at risk, it puts their families and the public at risk.”