White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that security concerns were the reason President Obama did not join world leaders at Sunday’s “unity rally” in France. But the Secret Service says it was never even approached about the possibility of a Paris visit. Via CNN:
A Secret Service official said the agency was not asked to draw up security plans for a potential presidential trip to Paris in advance of Sunday’s march.
“We weren’t asked or notified about a trip,” the official said. But the agency had Secret Service agents on the ground in Paris, per its standard operating procedure. . . .
During the White House briefing, Earnest suggested security challenges were a factor in not having the president travel to Paris. But Earnest acknowledged the Secret Service could have pulled it off. An agency official noted previous “last minute” presidential trips have happened during the Obama presidency, including a hurried visit to South Africa in December 2013 for the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
Fox News’s Mike Emanuel reiterated the Secret Service’s claim in a tweet on Monday afternoon:
Secret Service official tells Fox News its leadership was not asked or notified about a possible trip to Paris. #FNPolitics
— Mike Emanuel 🇺🇸 (@MikeEmanuelFox) January 12, 2015
According to The Hill, the absence of a White House delegation was a “staff-level” decision in which the president was not personally involved.
So, if it’s not that the president could not go, what else can one conclude but that he simply did not want to?