Fake News: Trump Did NOT Strip Obama of Secret Service Protection For Remainder of Shutdown

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Trump Did NOT Strip Obama of Secret Service Protection For Remainder of Shutdown

Did President Trump strip away the Secret Service protection of the Obama family for the remainder of the government shutdown? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to educate gullible Trump supporters and Republicans about the need to actually click and read links before sharing or liking them in order to avoid being embarrassed by fans of the site later. All the events described in the article are not real.

The story originated from an article published on January 12, 2019 titled "BREAKING: Trump Strips Obama of Secret Service Protection For Remainder of Shutdown" (archived here) which opened:

The federal government remains shut down today as the Democrats once again refused to budge on the issue of border security. In response, the Trump administration ordered sweeping cuts to security programs for "non-essential" services, such as Secret Service protection for former presidents, senators, Justices, and CEOs. Trump decided to cut protection for presidents and former senators, leaving the Bushes and Obamas to fend for themselves, along with John Boehner and the family of dead John McCain.

The Obamas, who live smack dab in the middle of Washington DC, are now cowering in an interior room of their mansion with no windows waiting for the shutdown to be over. According to the spokesman for his private company, Nos Ordo Seclorum Inc, Obama deserves to be treated better.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

BREAKING: Trump Strips Obama of Secret Service Protection For Remainder of Shutdown

Maybe now he'll tell his deep state pals to work their magic.

However the Department of Homeland Security (under which the Secret Service resorts) has published a guidebook with procedures in effect during a government shutdown. On page 4 it lists the activities that are excepted from a shutdown, and on page six it specifically lists some examples:

 Maintaining law enforcement operations, including drug and illegal alien interdiction
 Continuing passenger processing and cargo inspection functions at ports of entry
Providing the protective functions of the U.S. Secret Service
 Maintaining counter-terrorism watches or intelligence gathering or dissemination in support
of terrorist threat warnings
 Retaining minimal personnel to maintain telecommunications necessary for excepted

It does note that some administrative and support activities which are not directly related to providing these services should be shut down but that clearly would not mean leaving people unprotected. Typically the Secret service is also not responsible for the protection of "senators, Justices, and CEOs" as the story claimed.

The site that published the hoax did so under the category "BREAKING SATIRE" and comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites, including potatriotpost.us, dailyworldupdate.us and nofakenewsonline.us. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". A second man working on the sites is John Prager as revealed in this earlier story we wrote.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

Blair and his operation were profiled by the Washington Post on November 17, 2018 by Eli Saslow:

'Nothing on this page is real': How lies become truth in online America

November 17 The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed.

If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:

The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes wearethellod.com as:

A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about wearethellod.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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