Joe Biden may declare victory today. In anticipation of that move, the U.S. Secret Service is ramping up the presidential candidate’s protection. They are sending extra agents today to beef up his security detail just in case Biden delivers a speech declaring victory.
President Trump’s lead in Georgia vanished overnight. As I write this on Friday morning, his lead has disappeared in Pennsylvania, too. Both states are now in Biden’s column. It is possible that a victory speech scenario can happen today. Biden plans to remain in Wilmington, Delaware Friday, and that is where reinforcements are being dispatched. The Biden campaign is headquartered at a riverfront convention center in Wilmington. Biden is expected to deliver his victory speech from there.
Biden receives extra Secret Service protection as a presidential candidate so the next move is to increase his protection to the level a president-elect receives. This doesn’t mean that the agency expects President Trump to concede if Biden delivers a speech. In all likelihood, Trump will not concede because the Trump campaign has lawsuits filed in several states. The Trump campaign’s motto is Count every legal vote, as it should be. No one expects the president to concede any time soon. He continues to say he wants the Supreme Court to rule on the election results.
Last night Trump tweeted that he would “easily win” if all legal votes were counted. Twitter flagged the tweet as one that contains misleading information.
So, as the drama continues over counting ballots, the Secret Service is adding protection to Biden’s protective bubble. His campaign gave the agency a heads-up that they will stay at the convention center and could make a major speech from there today.
The Secret Service summoned a squad of agents to add to the protective bubble around Biden after his campaign told the agency that the Democratic nominee would continue utilizing a Wilmington convention center at least another day and could make a major speech as early as Friday, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the security protocols.
The additional security for Biden that is expected to begin Friday doesn’t give him a full protective detail that accompanies a president-elect, but it moves closer in that direction. It remains unclear when the Secret Service would provide that level of security for Biden should he win.
The agency typically ramps up protection for a president-elect immediately after that person has been declared the winner by assigning a new raft of agents to the incoming president. Historically, that increase in protection has happened late into election night after one candidate has conceded and the other has given a victory speech.
Team Biden has all but declared victory already anyway. Though Biden said he wouldn’t get out ahead of the vote count and declare himself the winner prematurely, as he expected Trump to do, he has been delivering daily statements to the press. He speaks about being certain that he has won various states still counting ballots. He’s a career politician and he finesses his words to declare victory without specifically declaring victory.
If Trump doesn’t concede if Biden is declared the winner, the protocol for Secret Service protection is that the agency can wait for the electoral college to meet in mid-December to certify vote results before treating Biden as the president-elect. It is more likely, though, that they will continue to ramp up protection to that level before the electoral college meets. We’ve been here before. In 2000, the election results were in limbo for 36 days.
The agency has only faced such a decision once before: in the contested 2000 presidential race between Republican George W. Bush and Democratic then-Vice President Al Gore.
For 36 days, there was no official president-elect as the two sides were locked in a recount over votes in Florida and then a legal fight that went to the Supreme Court.
During that time, the Secret Service maintained the status quo, keeping the vice-presidential protective detail with Gore and continuing to protect Bush as a major candidate.
It’s been a bitter campaign and we likely will get more of the same as this all wraps up.