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Old 05-12-2018, 09:18 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Would Trump keep his Secret Service protection if he is sent to prison?

Though he probably cannot be prosecuted while president, he can be arrested and and tried after he leaves office. As a former president, he is entitled to Secret Service protection for 10 years after leaving office. Is there anything in the law that removes SS protection if he is convicted and sent to prison? Or would he have armed protection in prison?
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Old 05-12-2018, 09:53 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Nitpick: The 10 years protection rule was rather brief. Barack Obama signed the law reinstating it back to life for SS protection in 2013 and it is retroactive for both him, George W Bush and also applies all future Presidents. I don't know of anything in the law (The Former Presidents Act also known also as FPA; 3 U.S.C. ß 102) that puts any conditions on the various benefits it provides to former Presidents. I suppose that could be changed by Congress in the future but that limitation doesn't exist right now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Former_Presidents_Act

Last edited by Shagnasty; 05-12-2018 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Addition
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Old 05-12-2018, 10:12 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Lots of assumptions here. It matters whether this comes during his term or after. If during, then he would have to be impeached and convicted, and conviction can come with some terms. I don't know if removing Secret Service protection is a possible outcome. It seems unlikely to me, but the impeachment clause was written long before the Secret Service or protection of any kind was even dreamed of.

Note that the President can voluntarily give up Secret Service protection, as Nixon did.

If it did continue, the Secret Service would probably coordinate with the onsite prison authorities to create what they considered a safe routine. What that would be would necessarily vary with the actual location. You could postulate anything from a single liaison person to a special exclusive guard on a separate wing.
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:31 AM
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Other than budgetary reasons, there would be nothing to stop Congress from passing a bill to build a specialized "Former Presidents Prison." Put it out on the prairie somewhere away from everything else, and make the airspace a permanent no-fly zone.
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:38 AM
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Wouldn't solitary confinement be safe enough?

Last edited by running coach; 05-12-2018 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:42 AM
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I'm thinking, why not just have the Secret Service be his prison guards? Two jailbirds with one stone!
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Old 05-12-2018, 01:37 PM
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IIRC under existing law a President who'd removed from office by the Senate after being impeached by the House wouldn't be entitled to any benefits given to former Presidents (pension, Secret Service protection, etc), but I think the law is silent on what happens if a former President is convicted in a criminal court after their term ends or they resign. This seems like something Congress isn't going to address unless/until it actually happens.

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Old 05-12-2018, 03:12 PM
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More realistically, I wonder if former Presidential candidates would receive SS protection in jail?
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Old 05-12-2018, 03:14 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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in other countries former presidents have been sent to prison. Peru is 1 example. I assume those guys have been stripped on benefits.
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Old 05-12-2018, 03:19 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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More realistically, I wonder if former Presidential candidates would receive SS protection in jail?
I don't think they are entitled to protection after the election.
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Old 05-12-2018, 03:32 PM
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I don't think they are entitled to protection after the election.
Of course they are. Itís been cited in this very thread.
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Old 05-12-2018, 03:39 PM
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Of course they are. Itís been cited in this very thread.
Only if they are elected.
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Old 05-12-2018, 04:01 PM
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Only if they are elected.
Oh, I see what you meant now. My bad.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:24 PM
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Other than budgetary reasons, there would be nothing to stop Congress from passing a bill to build a specialized "Former Presidents Prison." Put it out on the prairie somewhere away from everything else, and make the airspace a permanent no-fly zone.
That's a NIMBY issue if I've ever seen one. Maybe out of simplicity and irony, they could put it in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:38 PM
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He probably cannot be prosecuted while president
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?
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Old 05-12-2018, 11:19 PM
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in other countries former presidents have been sent to prison. I assume those guys have been stripped on benefits.
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Wouldn't solitary confinement be safe enough?
In Israel, the prime minister was jailed for financial corruption (a couple years after leaving office). They re-built one section of the prison building specially for him to be held alone.
The official reason was that he could not mix with the common criminals because he knew top-secret military stuff, etc.
But the real reason , I think, was that he received a lot of visitors who were well-know public figures--- and the conditions in the solitary confinement cells are too unpleasant to make public.

Last edited by chappachula; 05-12-2018 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 05-13-2018, 06:43 AM
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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.

On the other hand, I know of no barrier to the President being prosecuted for violating state laws (which are, after all, where most crimes in the US fall), unless the individual state has provisions of some sort against it. This would also rule out the possibility of the Secret Service agents being themselves the prison guards, since in such a case the prison guards would be under state authority, not federal.
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Old 05-13-2018, 12:34 PM
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On the other hand, I know of no barrier to the President being prosecuted for violating state laws (which are, after all, where most crimes in the US fall), unless the individual state has provisions of some sort against it. This would also rule out the possibility of the Secret Service agents being themselves the prison guards, since in such a case the prison guards would be under state authority, not federal.
OK, not his guards (depending on the supremacy clause, perhaps?). But, would a rotating shift of SS agents be assigned to be his cellmate? They'd only work an 8 hour shift, of course, so would be home at various times.
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Old 05-14-2018, 03:41 AM
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If there is a prison term involved, I think it has to be a felony. In practice, it appears that convicted felons can be disqualified, by that fact alone, for a wide range of things presumed to be a constitutional entitlement for any other citizen, including voting, bearing arms, etc.

So in practice, if withdrawing SS qualification for Trump enjoys popular support, all the SS needs to do is say "convicted felons are dissqualified" and it's a done deal.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:23 AM
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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.
It hasn't yet stopped Trump's own justice department from investigating him.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:27 AM
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I tend to think that he would be sent to a minimum security facility and separated from the general population. In an environment like that, it would take minimal secret service protection.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:31 AM
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How badly would you need to fuck up to be assigned as Trump's prison-minder?
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:12 PM
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How badly would you need to fuck up to be assigned as Trump's prison-minder?
I seem to remember that Ronald Reagan still had the regular secret service protection given to all ex-presidents......even after he became totally senile and confined to an old-age home.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:26 PM
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I would also suspect that if it did reach that point, there would be a high likelihood that he would be sentenced to house arrest, since that would be easier for everyone involved.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:33 PM
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IIRC under existing law a President who'd removed from office by the Senate after being impeached by the House wouldn't be entitled to any benefits given to former Presidents (pension, Secret Service protection, etc)
This raises the question: can the President be impeached after their term has ended? Since impeachment can lead to removal from office and/or prohibition from holding office again, it's logically possible to impeach and bar a former President from holding office again. But it's not clear to me if it's legally possible.
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Old 05-14-2018, 05:53 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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This raises the question: can the President be impeached after their term has ended? Since impeachment can lead to removal from office and/or prohibition from holding office again, it's logically possible to impeach and bar a former President from holding office again. But it's not clear to me if it's legally possible.
The President is no longer President after the term. Why would Congress have power over someone who is not an officer of the United States?
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:41 AM
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The entire spectrum of outcome of an impeachment is removal from office, or not removal from office.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:45 AM
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This raises the question: can the President be impeached after their term has ended? Since impeachment can lead to removal from office and/or prohibition from holding office again, it's logically possible to impeach and bar a former President from holding office again. But it's not clear to me if it's legally possible.
Not an answer to impeachment but the Senate has ruled that it can still hold the trial even if the person has left office specifically because the person can be prohibited from holding office again.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:59 AM
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Let's be realistic. An (ex)president is not going to end up in the general population of some "drop the soap in the shower" prison or like an episode of Orange Is The New Black; at the very least he or she will end up in Club Fed ("sorry, Martha left years ago, but we do have some other distinguished guests; horseback riding is at 3PM"). They will have a nice room or wing, assorted amenities and protection from any other guest who wants to go down in history and has nothing left to lose over the next 30 years to life. Presumably that protection will be Secret Service rather than a coterie of Aryan Nation thugs or whatever is normal in other prisons...

Unless his or her successor is a narrow-minded SOB who has it in for them...
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:16 PM
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OK, not his guards (depending on the supremacy clause, perhaps?). But, would a rotating shift of SS agents be assigned to be his cellmate? They'd only work an 8 hour shift, of course, so would be home at various times.
I hope you appreciate the irony of using the "SS" abbreviation.
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Quoth pdhenry:

The entire spectrum of outcome of an impeachment is removal from office, or not removal from office.
This is not true, as has already been pointed out. The outcome can also include being barred from holding any other position.
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:34 PM
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Trump would become a ward of the state, the state would assume responsibility for him. Not seeing how the SS would be needed here. (and yes SS, deal with it)
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:42 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is offline
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I seem to remember that Ronald Reagan still had the regular secret service protection given to all ex-presidents......even after he became totally senile and confined to an old-age home.
Reagan died at his own home in CA. He could afford to have really good care at home so he did not need to go to a nursing home.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:15 AM
Tired and Cranky Tired and Cranky is offline
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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 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3056), 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.

Quote:
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.
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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.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-polit...ent-prosecutor
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:17 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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I suspect he'd have a wing to himself in some low-security Federal prison, for ease of providing security and to keep him from being shivved in the general population. USSS (I prefer that acronym, given the obvious connotations of the shorter one) agents aren't corrections officers and I doubt they'd want to function as such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
Nitpick: The 10 years protection rule was rather brief. Barack Obama signed the law reinstating it back to life for SS protection in 2013 and it is retroactive for both him, George W Bush and also applies all future Presidents....
Correct. This might also be of interest: https://www.straightdope.com/columns...getting-drunk/
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:11 AM
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Then there's the seepage problem.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:12 AM
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I don't think they are entitled to protection after the election.
Okay - something slightly more plausible:

Let's say Bernie Sanders becomes the Dem nominee in 2020. In an effort to bring his activist past back to the spotlight, he takes part in a rally that gets out of hand. Bernie is arrested in a jurisdiction which chooses (for whatever reason) to not give him any deferential treatment. He is sent to lockup. Bernie demands that he be allowed the SS protection provided by Title 18 U.S.C. 3056(a)(7).

Bernie is obviously going to make bail, but he's still going to be in holding for a period of time which is not zero. Is the SS allowed to accompany him? Can they require the local cops to provide access? Can they require the local cops to treat him in a particular manner?

Basically, does section (d) override local authority?

Quote:
Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs, resists, or interferes with a Federal law enforcement agent engaged in the performance of the protective functions authorized by this section or by section 1752 of this title shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Last edited by Johnny Bravo; 05-16-2018 at 11:12 AM.
  #38  
Old 05-16-2018, 11:41 AM
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...Basically, does section (d) override local authority?
The Supremacy Clause says yes.

Slight tangent: JFK's USSS contingent took his remains from Parkland Hospital in Dallas over the objections of the local coroner and cops, who argued that it was a Texas murder and that the President was required to have an autopsy there. It was a tense situation, by all accounts.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:12 AM
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Slate doesn't have any better idea about what would happen than we do, although they speculate as we did that the Secret Service might just delegate responsibility to the corrections officials, maintain a low-profile presence at the prison, or that the rules might be changed to eliminate secret service protection for a prisoner.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/...in-prison.html
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:13 PM
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Let's consider the possibility the USSS might work out something with the US Marshals Service. And while a sitting POTUS might not be able to be prosecuted, if he were impeached and convicted he'd be an Ex-POTUS and could be prosecuted for all sorts of stuff. I wonder how some people might fare during and after a thorough RICO investigation of all his business affairs.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:37 PM
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And an individual State could prosecute and ex-POTUS and no President could pardon him from that.
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