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No Secret Service nightmare: Agents ready for presidents who stray
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No Secret Service nightmare: Agents ready for presidents who stray

No Secret Service nightmare: Agents ready for presidents who stray
Photo Credit: Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post
President Donald Trump stops his motorcade to greet supporters on Bingham Island outside Palm Beach on Sunday March 19, 2017, on his way to Palm Beach International Airport.

No Secret Service nightmare: Agents ready for presidents who stray

Bill Clinton liked to go jogging around Washington.

Barack Obama would stroll from the White House to a nearby Five Guys burger joint.

So while some expressed alarm after President Donald Trump stepped out of his armored SUV to greet supporters on his way to the airport on Sunday, former Secret Service agents only grimaced.

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“While the Secret Service would certainly prefer the president never, ever do that, they all do that,” said former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, who served for 21 years and is the author of the upcoming book, “I Am a Secret Service Agent.” “It’s a Secret Service nightmare, but agents are trained for that.”

Former agents say such impromptu stops — known as “off the record” events — are more common than most people believe, and obviously riskier than staying in places that have been screened by the president’s security detail.

But because they’re random, they carry an element of surprise that works to agents’ advantage: Bad guys don’t know they’ll be there, either. The track record bears it out (knock on wood): Presidential assassins all knew where the presidents would be when they pulled the trigger.

“I know it seems to the untrained eye that it’s dangerous — What if this? What if that?” said former agent Dan Bongino, who was on the presidential detail under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama and now lives in Martin County. “The reality is, (bad guys are) not there, ready for an attack and an assault on the president.”

That doesn’t mean some presidents don’t knowingly walk into potentially dangerous situations.

During the Rodney King riots, Emmett remembered when President George H.W. Bush, who wasn’t prone to “off-the-record” stops, wanted to see the devastation in Los Angeles in 1992.“We thought he was just going to drive around,” Emmett said. Instead, “He got out of the limo and was walking through south-central LA in a Brooks Brothers suit, with buildings still smoldering and store owners on the roofs with shotguns. You had people that close to the president with live weapons.”

That’s not quite Bingham Island, the narrow stretch of land between Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and West Palm Beach, where the president stopped, waved and pointed at supporters before getting out and shaking a few hands on Sunday. He even invited seven supporters back to his mansion on Saturday for a brief chat.

Secret Service agents had to push back the crowds, and they scrambled to make sure the door to the president’s armored SUV stayed open while he was out of the car. A U.S. Secret Service spokeswoman on Monday declined to comment on Trump’s stop.

Agents said they can do little but protest when the most powerful person on the planet wants to get out and talk to people or stop at a diner for a meal.

“You can give a suggestion. You can give advice. But ultimately it’s up to the president,” said 29-year agent Danny Cecere, who retired in 2003.

President Jimmy Carter liked to walk to the South Lawn of the White House and talk to visitors on the other side of the fence, for example, he said.

“Park police on the outer perimeter, they didn’t like it,” Cecere said.

The agents said that having local police on the scene is critical to keeping presidents safe when they choose to stop somewhere unscheduled. When Trump stopped on Sunday, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies were helping keep people back.

Emmett recalled driving around Moscow when Clinton asked to get out of the car and talk to a crowd of people.

“That seems a little bit dangerous,” Emmett said, but Clinton wandered into the crowd anyway.

His fears lessened when “we were immediately surrounded by these very large and menacing-looking policemen in police coats,” he said.

Bongino said even when stops seem impromptu, they often aren’t. Usually, agents have scouted out the lemonade stand where a president wants to stop.

You’re making sure “it’s not the Osama bin Laden school of lemonade-making or something,” Bongino said.

But the agents said that if Trump keeps stopping to talk to supporters along his route between Palm Beach International Airport and the winter White House at Mar-a-Lago, it could raise the level of danger significantly.

“Doing the exact same routine, time after time after time, you’re giving them your playbook,” Emmett said.

For that reason, Bongino expects Trump will start taking advantage of his newly constructed helipad. He didn’t use Marine One this weekend, though.

Not only are helicopters safer than being on the ground, he said, past presidents used them whenever possible so they didn’t disrupt traffic.

“Presidents are politicians,” Bongino said. “The last thing a president in a swing state wants to do is disrupt the locals.”

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Georgia Sports News

  • GREENSBORO, Ga. — Greetings from the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee, my home away from home. That’s a joke. The only time I ever get to enjoy this posh resort an hour south of Athens is every other year when the University of Georgia Athletic Association board of the directors holds its end-of-year meeting here. That’s happening over the next two days. There’s a meeting of the executive committee this morning, followed by a meeting of the full board until lunch.  The group will adjourn for golf and personal time on the expansive resort, which includes a full spa and golf course, then reconvene Friday morning to conduct more business. Among the items expected to be discussed at this year’s meeting: The approval of a record $143 million budget; An update on several construction projects, including the $63 million west end zone addition at Sanford Stadium and the new men’s and women’s golf headquarters; An update on fundraising to pay for recent projects, including the $30 million indoor athletic facility, thought to be in the range of $90 million; A proposal to build a new $18 million six-court, indoor tennis facility in the South Campus area where the current Lindsey Hopkins four-court facility exists; Election and reappointment of board members and proposal to amend board bylaws; A new student ticket distribution plan; An academic report, which will include details about UGA’s recent recognition by the NCAA for scoring in the top 10 percent of all teams across the country in each sport. As always, there will likely be some unexpected developments. We’ll be here to provide updates the next two days. The post UGA athletic board expected to approve record budget, more construction projects appeared first on DawgNation.
  • PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jake Arrieta aced up. Arrieta struck out seven in 6 2/3 sharp innings, Carlos Santana's swinging-bunt broke a scoreless tie and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 4-0 on Wednesday night. The Phillies took two of three to win their first series against the NL East-leading Braves in four tries and closed within a half-game of first place. Arrieta (4-2) allowed seven hits and lowered his ERA to 2.45. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner showed exactly why the Phillies are paying him $30 million this season. 'The reason we got him is because he can go through one of the best lineups in the league three times,' Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. 'Never once did we feel he wasn't in control.' Even though it's only May, Kapler called it a 'big game' hours before first pitch. 'It felt a lot different,' he said. Seranthony Dominguez retired the four batters he faced after entering with runners on second and third in the seventh. Hector Neris pitched the ninth to complete the eight-hitter. Braves starter Luiz Gohara (0-1) gave up two runs and four hits in four innings in his first start of the season. 'They didn't hit him hard,' Braves manager Brian Snitker said. 'Overall, he was good.' Gohara retired the first two batters in the third before Rhys Hoskins walked, Odubel Herrera reached on an infield single and Aaron Altherr walked to load the bases. Santana beat out a slow roller to third to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. That's all Arrieta and the bullpen needed. 'It's shaping up to be a good division and we have to play good ball,' Arrieta said. Arrieta escaped a jam in the second after the Braves put runners on second and third with no outs. Ender Inciarte led off with a single and Johan Camargo hit a double. But Dansby Swanson grounded out to third, Gohara struck out and Ozzie Albies bounced to first. 'That's just a situation that determines that outcome of the game for me,' Arrieta said. 'It's an opportunity to preserve the game and I was able to get past that.' Cesar Hernandez had an RBI single in the fourth, Maikel Franco had an RBI double in the fifth and pinch-hitter Nick Williams had an RBI double in the eighth. GOOSE EGGS The Phillies had two shutouts in the series, holding Atlanta to three total runs, only one of which was earned. Since 1913, it was just the eighth time Philadelphia recorded at least two shutouts and allowed one or no earned runs in a series of any length, and just the second time since 1966. The other was at Los Angeles on June 9-11, 1995. Four of the team's six shutouts this season have been against division opponents. DIVISION RIVALS The Braves are 7-5 vs. the Phillies this season, but the teams won't play again until they meet seven times in September during the final two weeks. TRAINER'S ROOM Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff will have tests on Thursday in Philadelphia before visiting a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome specialist in St. Louis about the twinges he felt in his fingers during a rehab start on Sunday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. UP NEXT Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (5-1, 1.29 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game interleague series at Boston. It'll be his first appearance against the Red Sox. Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (1-0, 1.56 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game interleague series Friday night against Toronto. Eflin allowed eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his major league debut vs. the Blue Jays in 2016. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • NFL owners adopted a new policy Wednesday aimed at ending – or at least concealing from public view – player protests during the national anthem before games.  The policy, approved by the owners at the league’s spring meetings in Atlanta, will require players who are on the field to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.” However, the policy will provide the option for players who choose not to stand to remain “in the locker room or a similar location off the field” until after the anthem is performed.  The owners’ action came after much controversy the past two years over some players kneeling during the anthem.  Under the policy adopted Wednesday, teams will be fined by the league if any of their players or other personnel are on the field and do not show respect for the anthem.  In turn, it will be up to individual teams whether to fine or otherwise punish their players for violations of the policy. » More: Read the new policy NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was flanked by four owners when he announced the measure in a Buckhead hotel ballroom. The announcement followed several hours of discussion by the owners about the issue during their two-day meetings here.  “Clearly our objective as a league … is that we want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” Goodell said. “We want people to stand – that’s all personnel – and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe.  “We were very sensitive to making sure we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment.” Players previously were required to be on the field for the anthem.  The owners hope their action will take attention off the controversy and return the focus to the games.  “I think it has been a good discussion internally coming up with this policy,” Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell said. “(We) look forward to getting the focus back on football, getting back to football in 2018.”  That may be wishful thinking to some degree, judging from the immediate reaction of the NFL Players Association.  The NFLPA said in a written statement that the league “chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’” The union said it will “challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”  “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and, yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about,” the union’s statement said.  The union also said the policy “contradicts the statements made to our player leadership” by Goodell and NFL Management Council chairman John Mara “about the principles, values and patriotism of our league.” Asked what he would say to the union about its statement, Goodell said:  “Anything I have to say to the union, I’ll say to them directly.” Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said the policy considered a wide range of perspectives. “Obviously, we want to continue to work with our players and make sure that they feel their point of view has been respected,” Rooney said. “Those who are not comfortable standing for the anthem have the right to stay off the field, so we’re not forcing anybody to stand who doesn’t feel that’s within the way they feel about particular subjects.  “I think that we listened to a lot of different viewpoints, including our fans, over the past year.”  Falcons owner Arthur Blank wasn’t available for comment after the owners’ vote – he was traveling to New York for a Wednesday night event -- but in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday, he expressed support for a measure such as the one adopted.  Blank has backed the players, but he nonetheless said Tuesday he thinks they should stand for the anthem and accurately predicted the NFL would adopt a policy reflecting that. In a written statement that preceded his news conference Wednesday, Goodell said: “It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.” The national-anthem issue first arose for the NFL in the 2016 season, starting as a protest by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick against police brutality and racial injustice. The protests grew around the league last season. Goodell said the new policy was approved unanimously by the owners, but 49ers owner Jed York told reporters he abstained from the vote.  Other actions taken by the owners on the final day of their meetings Wednesday included awarding the 2023 Super Bowl to Glendale, Ariz., the 2024 Super Bowl to New Orleans and the 2019 NFL draft to Nashville.