Secret Service Denies Report Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Refused to Let Agents Use Their Restrooms
In an unusual move, the Secret Service is denying a report this week that White House senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have been refusing to let their government security detail use any of the six-and-a-half bathrooms inside their Washington, D.C., home.
The agency's response came several hours after The Washington Post published an article on Thursday citing neighbors and anonymous law enforcement sources who described how the agents assigned to the Trump-Kushner family had sought bathrooms to use elsewhere around the city's elite Kalorama neighborhood — also home to the Obamas — because, the Post wrote it was told by one source, "the agents were kept out at the family's request."
Though the Post reported that agents were "instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple's house," the White House adamantly disputed any ban set out by President Donald Trump's daughter or her husband. ("Ridiculous story," one aide insisted to PEOPLE).
So did the Secret Service, which typically avoids commenting on the specifics of its work.
"The Secret Service makes every effort, particularly at a residence, to conduct protective operations with minimum impact on a household," a spokesperson told PEOPLE and other outlets in a statement after initially declining to comment to the Post.
"In accordance with this practice, Secret Service personnel do not request access to the facilities at private residences," the spokesperson said. "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have not denied Secret Service personnel access to their home to include use of the restroom."
The Post's report describes in detail the up-and-down arc of bathroom availability for the agents — including, per their reporting, how agents were banned from a spare facility in the Obamas garage after one made "an unpleasant mess."
(A knowledgeable source confirmed to PEOPLE that in 2017 agents from the Kushner detail did use a restroom in the garage of the Obamas' home nearby. This source had no knowledge of a "mess" that ended the arrangement.)
While agents assigned to Ivanka and Kushner had access to a porta-potty, for a time, they also used a restroom at Vice President Mike Pence's residence about a mile away and at area restaurants, according to the Post.
"It's the first time I ever heard of a Secret Service detail having to go to these extremes to find a bathroom," one law enforcement official told the Post.
Eventually, agents worked out a new arrangement, the paper reported. Since September 2017, the Secret Service has rented out an 820-square-foot basement apartment near the family's home, for $3,000 a month.
Citing a contract via the General Services Administration, the Post reported that the government will have paid $144,000 over four years to rent the space when the lease ends in September 2021.
Kay Kendall, who owns the property, told the Post: "I think it was very clear that they just needed a place to take a shower, take a break, use the facilities, have lunch. I'm happy to be able to have helped them."
Former Connecticut congressman Anthony Moffett Jr. lives in the home owned by Kendall, above the basement unit, and and tells PEOPLE that agents have used it for the last three years but do not stay overnight.
"It has been a welcome place for their shift changes and to rest briefly," Moffett says.
The claim that Ivanka, 39, and Kushner, 40, had refused to let their own security detail use the bathroom was fodder for critics.
Some detractors noted parallels to how the Trump family's business has profited over the years from the Secret Service being billed while staying at Trump properties during their protective work.
Late-night shows were also quick to chime in.
"I was not a fan of this couple before, but it seems particularly douchey of Jared and Ivanka not to let Secret Service in their bathrooms," Late Show host Stephen Colbert said. "I'm just saying, these are men and women who literally would take a bullet for you. The least you can do is let them take a leak."
A White House spokesman, however, pushed back on the story.
"This is just another false narrative. When discussions regarding protecting their home were initially had in 2017, Ivanka and Jared made clear that their home would always be open to the incredible men and women on their detail. It was only after a decision by the [Secret Service] was made that their detail sought other accommodations," the spokesman said in a statement.
He went on: "The Kushners have a tremendous amount of respect for the servicemen and women on their detail and for the United States Secret Service as a whole. Their home will always be open to them and they have immense gratitude for their service over the last four years."
Moffett, the family's Kalorama neighbor, says that the brouhaha this week "is the first I've ever heard about [the rental] being about a bathroom."
He says that agents have used the space to watch TV, use their laptops, shower and for other respites.
"I know it's much more than about a bathroom," Moffett says. "We've had very infrequent contact with the Secret Service guys and women, but they've been great."
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON
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