President John F. Kennedy was notorious for asking his agents to keep their distance, they recalled. On the day he was shot his guards had been ordered to keep their distance
A Secret Service agent who was assigned to President John F. Kennedy’s security detail wondered if he could have saved the president from assassination if he weren’t kept at a distance, a new book reveals.
For the Secret Service agents protecting Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States posed an unusually difficult challenge because he insisted on keeping them at a distance to shield his philandering and to seem approachable to the public, the book claims.
While on a Florida and Texas campaign tour to smooth over schisms in the Democratic Party in 1963, he told members of his Secret Service escort to keep their distance, and stay in a separate vehicle a car length’s behind his.
He wanted to seem relatable to the people while on his re-election campaign tour, but after his assassination in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, agents would later wonder whether the distance he mandated had contributed to his death.
Their misgivings are outlined in Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, which is out on Tuesday, and written by journalist Carol Leonnig.
In it, Leonnig tells the history of the agency over the decades from its agents’ own perspective.
The book is described as the ‘first definitive account of the rise and fall of the Secret Service, from the Kennedy assassination to the alarming mismanagement of the Obama and Trump years, right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
For JFK, his alleged propensity for extramarital affairs meant frequent breaches in protocol, and he often gave his own guards the slip.
While on a Florida and Texas campaign tour to smooth over schisms in the Democratic Party in 1963, he told members of his escort to keep their distance, and stay in a separate vehicle a car length’s behind his. In this photo moments before Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, the president can be seen relatively unguarded
Kennedy’s propensity for extramarital affairs posed an unusual challenge for the Secret Service agents tasked with guarding him, according to a new book by journalist Carol Leonnig. Agents would later express regret that they couldn’t do more to prevent his assassination. In this photo, the president and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, are seen in Dallas before getting in the car to join the parade where the president would be killed
The accounts from Secret Service members were outlined in Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, which is out Tuesday
‘Kennedy was extremely reckless with his own personal safety,’ Leonnig wrote in the book, as reported by Fox News.
‘His actions made some of his protectors uneasy and a few quite angry. Professionally, he was their toughest assignment yet.’
While the agency was stretched thin resource-wise, it was Kennedy himself who was perhaps a larger problem.
His mistresses could not be subject to background checks, and one agent quoted in the book, Tim McIntyre, recalled a cavalcade of women being escorted to the president’s bedroom.
Leonnig wrote that McIntyre, ‘stood witness to a steady parade of secretaries, starlets, and even prostitutes escorted to the president’s bedroom — in hotels and in his private residence. The Secret Service agents weren’t allowed to ask the women’s names.’
The Secret Service members were barred from asking for the women’s names, but he was reported to have had affairs with actresses Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe as well as painter Mary Eno Pinchot Meyer and White Hour press office intern.
Clint Hill at the 2018 premiere of Always At The Carlyle. Hill was head of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Secret Service detail, and recounted with regret how he had been ordered to follow the president and first lady in a follow car to make Kennedy seem more approachable. He believed if he had been closer he would have been able to shield him with his body
Zero Fail recounts the evening before his assassination, during which Kennedy brought nine of his agents, four of whom were set to guard him the next morning, to a night club.
Leonnig wrote that Clint Hill, who headed the first lady’s detail, said he believed he could have made a difference early that next afternoon, maybe using his body to shield the president after the first shot.
Instead, he had been in the car behind.
It was part of the move to seem more approachable, Leonnig said in the book.
‘If I’d only been on the rear steps of the car, I would have been close enough to get to him before the third shot,’ Hill recounted in Leonnig’s book. ‘If only I’d been faster.’
Don Jr.’s ex-wife Vanessa and Tiffany Trump both got ‘inappropriately – and perhaps dangerously – close’ to their Secret Service detail while Donald was president, new book claims
Vanessa, 43, allegedly ‘started dating one of the agents who had been assigned to her family’ at some point between Trump taking office in January 2017 and him leaving the White House in January 2021.
Vanessa was married to the president’s eldest son Don Jr., 43, from 2005 before she filed for an ‘uncontested’ divorce in 2018.
The book, published by Random House and due for release May 18, is described as the ‘first definitive account of the rise and fall of the Secret Service, from the Kennedy assassination to the alarming mismanagement of the Obama and Trump years, right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.’
Don Jr.’s now-ex-wife Vanessa and Tiffany both got ‘inappropriately – and perhaps dangerously – close’ to their Secret Service detail while Donald Trump was president, according to a new book. Vanessa and Don Jr pictured in September 2019 with an agent
Vanessa is spotted with a secret service agent in December 2017. There is no suggestion this agent is the person she had an alleged ‘close’ relationship with
Vanessa and Tiffany were often seen spotted out and about with their Secret Service personnel. There is no indication the agents pictured with them are those at the center of the allegations.
Leonnig writes in the book, seen by The Guardian, that Secret Service agents had reported the relationship between Vanessa and the unnamed agent.
But the agent did not face disciplinary action because neither he nor the Secret Service were official guardians of Vanessa at the time, according to the book.
It is not clear when the alleged tryst is said to have taken place.
In 2017, Don Jr. reportedly asked that and his family have their 24-hour Secret Service protection removed because they wanted more privacy.
This led to Vanessa and their five children being left with ‘a rotating set of temporary agents’ which they didn’t like, the Washington Post reported.
Ultimately, the Secret Service detail was restored later that month.
Vanessa then filed for an uncontested divorce in March 2018.
It is not clear if Vanessa’s apparent relationship with the agent was before or after this date.
The couple wed at Mar-a-Lago in 2005 and welcomed their first child Kai in 2007.
They went on to have four more children together.
Speculation started brewing that a split was on the cards some time before Vanessa filed for divorce.
Page Six reported that Vanessa had been consulting divorce lawyers even before Trump entered the White House, with insiders saying they had been living separate lives for some time.
Things reportedly worsened after he took office and the family were thrust into the spotlight more.
In February 2018, Vanessa was rushed to hospital when she opened a letter addressed to Don Jr. at their Manhattan home containing a white powder, amid fears it was an anthrax attack.
The substance was later found to be harmless but the experience was said to be ‘terrifying’ for Vanessa.
Vanessa leaving her apartment in February 2018 with an agent to do the school run. There is no indication the agent is the person at the center of the claims made in the book
Tiffany and her fiancé Michale Boulos exit Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport in January
Other sources said Vanessa was ending the marriage because Don Jr treated her ‘like a second-class citizen’ and kept her on such a tight budget she had to turn to her mother for financial help.
There were also rumors of infidelity with Celebrity Apprentice star Aubrey O’Day claiming she had an affair with Don Jr.
O’Day claimed she and the president’s son had an affair after meeting on the show in 2011.
The alleged affair came to an end in 2012 when Vanessa found messages between the pair, she claimed.
Vanessa and Don Jr’s divorce was finalized at the end of 2018, with the couple putting on a united front with a joint statement the following February where they said they ‘committed’ to raising their five children together.
Don Jr’s ex-wife is not the only member of the Trump family the book claims grew close to a Secret Service agent while enjoying taxpayer-funded protection.
In 2017, Tiffany was spotted protectively putting her hand on an agent’s arm in New York City as they crossed the street together on her way to meet her mom for dinner. it is not clear if this is the agent mentioned in the book
Leonnig writes that Tiffany, Trump’s only child with second wife Marla Maples, ‘began spending an unusual amount of time alone with a Secret Service agent on her detail’ after splitting up with a boyfriend.
The alleged relationship raised eyebrows among Secret Service leaders, the book claims.
‘[They] became concerned at how close Tiffany appeared to be getting to the tall, dark and handsome agent,’ Leonnig writes.
The book says both Tiffany and the unnamed agent denied anything was going on between them but the agent was later reassigned to another post.
In 2017, Tiffany was spotted out in New York City with her Secret Service agent.
The then-24-year-old was photographed protectively putting her hand on the agent’s arm as they crossed the street together on her way to meet her mom for dinner.
It is not clear if this agent was the one linked to the president’s daughter.
Agents are forbidden from entering into relationships with the people they protect because it could impact their judgement on the job.
The book reveals it isn’t clear if the then-president was aware of the rumors circling his two family members.
However, it claims Trump did want agents removed for other reasons – namely that they were too short or fat.
‘I want these fat guys off my detail,’ Trump is reported to have said, possibly confusing office-based personnel with active agents, the book reads.
‘How are they going to protect me and my family if they can’t run down the street?’
SECRET SERVICE SCANDALS THROUGH THE YEARS
2017 – The VP’s agent and a prostitute
An off-duty agent on Vice President Mike Pence’s Secret Service detail was suspended after being caught meeting a prostitute at a hotel in Maryland hotel.
He was arrested and charged with solicitation, before he reported his arrest to the agency.
2015 – The child predator sting
Secret Service agent Lee Robert Moore was caught in a child predator sting operation by Delaware State Police.
Moore was caught sending naked photos to an officer who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. He was fired from the agency and later pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor to engage in sex and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor.
The retirement party and bomb investigation
Two agents – including the second-in-command of President Obama’s detail – allegedly drove drunk into a temporary barricade at the White House.
They drove directly into an active threat after a suspicious package was left by a woman who claimed to have a bomb.
The agents had been at a retirement party for the agency’s spokesman. They then sped off from the scene following the collision.
2014 – The drunken trip to Amsterdam
Three agents were sent home in disgrace from a presidential trip to the Netherlands after they were found passed out drunk in a hotel in Amsterdam.
2012 – The prostitution scandal
A group of Secret Service agents were involved in a prostitute scandal during a trip to Colombia, ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit for the Summit of the Americas.
They were accused of taking prostitutes back to their hotel.
Nine agents were fired or left the agency amid the scandal.