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Old 05-16-2018, 09:15 AM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 1,217
Since nothing like this has ever happened nor was ever really contemplated by the relevant statutes and regulations, I doubt there is a real GQ answer. My informed hunch is that it would not end with armed Secret Service agents running around a prison protecting the former president.

Under the relevant statute, 18 USC 3056 (, the Secret Service is authorized to provide lifetime protection to former presidents. Nothing in there says that they are obligated to protect former presidents. By my reading of the statute and considering general principles of constitutional law, either the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Director of the Secret Service could decide not to protect any former president.* I believe that if a former president were sentenced to jail, one of those three people would likely suspend Secret Service protection for the duration of the sentence. No need to imagine any ridiculous hypotheticals.

* If the Secret Service's budget appropriation required the agency to spend a certain amount of money protecting a certain former president, then the agency would actually be obligated to do it, but I doubt that the agency's appropriation is that specific about how its budget must be used. At most, I suspect the budget says that the Secret Service has $X dollars to spend on protection of former presidents, which they may generally use as they see fit. Feel free to prove me wrong. Even if this were the case, I doubt congress would, in subsequent budgets, appropriate a ton of money to protect a guy who is already in jail.

There is also no particular definition of what Secret Service protection requires. We think of Secret Service protection as including an armed entourage and whatnot, but it doesn't have to. The Secret Service is authorized to carry firearms but again, they aren't obligated to do so. Secret Service protection could be redefined for an incarcerated former president to include nothing more than a monthly phone call from a Secret Service agent to the prison where he is whiling away his time. Exapno Mapcase's idea also seems very plausible. Since, understandably, the Secret Service doesn't really talk a lot about their methods of protecting the president, they could effectively cut off meaningful protection to the incarcerated former president while still maintaining the polite fiction that he still has it.

Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The President probably couldn't legally be prosecuted under federal law while in office, because all federal prosecution is done under the President's delegated authority, so he'd effectively be prosecuting himself. But that's not likely to ever be put to the test, because even if he were, he could just pardon himself. The proper recourse for a President violating federal law is impeachment.
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
Out of curiosity, why do you say this? I'm no legal scholar by any means, but I see no reason why a sitting POTUS can't be prosecuted while in office. Have lawyers been weighing in on this?
The issue of whether a sitting president can be prosecuted by the Department of Justice is very controversial. I won't share my opinion, but I think this is a pretty good discussion of the topic without getting too far into the weeds.