The Secret Service will give agent protection to Ben Carson and Donald Trump while heavily upgrading Hillary Clinton's existing detail, a Washington source close to the agency’s plans confirmed to Newsmax.
The deployment of agents around Republican candidates Trump and Carson is set to begin as early as next week. Approximately two dozen agents will be assigned to each candidate.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has had Secret Service protection since leaving the White House as first lady in 2001, but her detail will be heavily upgraded by the agency’s move.
The agency's decision was primarily triggered by a significant number of threats to Carson, including death threats and terrorist chatter, the source said.
The threats to the retired pediatric neurosurgeon have been "off the charts," the source said. Polls show Carson either tied with Trump for front-runner status or in second place.
Armstrong Williams, Carson's business manager, told Newsmax he could neither "confirm nor deny" the Secret Service protection. “We don’t comment on security matters involving Dr. Carson,” he said.
But Newsmax has learned that the Secret Service and other federal agencies, including the FBI, became increasingly alarmed in recent weeks as their own monitoring activities indicated that Carson faced serious danger.
Carson caused a political brouhaha in September when he told Chuck Todd on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that a Muslim should not become president.
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," Carson said. He later clarified his remarks, saying any Muslim who believed in Sharia law should be disqualified from serving in the Oval Office.
The source said there was evidence that home-grown terrorists might be targeting a major political candidate like Carson. The Secret Service approached the Carson campaign to offer federal protection.
Both Carson and his campaign strongly resisted the Secret Service’s request at first, the source said.
But then Carson reluctantly agreed to the deployment of agents after the agency warned of grave danger and shared certain intelligence.
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“It is widely believed ISIS would like to strike a major political target in the U.S.,” the source said. The FBI has not offered such an assessment publicly.
But earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey told reporters in the Cincinnati area that the bureau’s efforts to monitor ISIS activities continue “24 hours” a day.
He added that the Islamic State group is encouraging potential U.S.-based supporters to either come to Syria “or if you can’t come, kill where you are.”
Unlike Carson, Republican front-runner Trump has officially requested Secret Service protection.
The billionaire noted that he has drawn "by far the biggest crowds" of any candidate at his events. He also said that President Barack Obama had received protection at this stage of his first campaign in 2008.
"I want to put them on notice because they should have a liability," Trump told The Hill.
"Personally, I think if Obama were doing as well as me he would’ve had Secret Service [earlier].”
Obama, who was an Illinois senator during the 2008 contest, received Secret Service protection on May 3, 2007, with law enforcement officials saying that the protection was not approved because of any specific threats.
In July, shortly after Trump criticized the Mexican government for the escape of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a maximum-security prison, a Twitter account linked to Guzman issued a threat against the billionaire: “Keep f–king around and I’m gonna make you swallow your whore words you f–king whitey milks–tter.”
Earlier this month Telesur, a Latin American television network based in Venezuela, reported uncorroborated claims that El Chapo has placed a $100 million bounty on Trump to encourage his assassination.
Eric Trump, one of the candidate's three sons, also expressed concerns about his father's safety on the campaign trail. Trump has five children.
"My father's my best friend," Eric Trump told Fox News on Friday.
"He's my idol. He's my boss.
"We work side by side. We spend every weekend together," he added. "He's really my best friend in the world."
The younger Trump estimated that as many as 30,000 or more people have been attending Trump rallies.
"There's mobs of people, and the energy, it's incredible," Eric Trump said. "But it really only takes one."
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