According to federal statute, there is a small group of government officials, starting with the president, who automatically receive Secret Service protection. There are varying degrees of protection.

All other individuals who receive “protectee” status must be designated as such by an executive order from the president, according to the Secret Service website. The Secret Service often provides recommendations on who can or should be protected based on their own assessments.

But nothing happens without the president’s signature.

Yet Gibbs said Tuesday, “The President doesn’t make protectee decisions.”

“Protectee decisions are made at — by the Secret Service,” Gibbs said.