Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor
Why Federal Law Protects Former Presidents From Imprisonment

April 5, 2023 --

William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich raised a series of questions in The New York Times, March 22, intended to the legal ramifications of the allegation that former president Donald J. Trump paid "hush money" to a porn actress some some years ago. Indeed, one of the questions raised by these Times reporters asked: "How do you arrest a former president?"

In their consideration of this question, the Times reporters acknowledged Mr. Trump's "status as. former president" but did not inform readers that this status not only is factually descriptive of a president following his term in office, but has the sanction of federal law. Here, in part, is Rashbaum and Bromwich's comments on the issue of placing a former president under arrest.

"[B]ecause of Mr. Trump's status as a former president -- and his round-the-clock Secret Service detail --- prosecutors are likely to make come accommodations. He could be held in an interview room instead of a cell...."

The next question put forth by these reporters was: "Will Mr. Trump be held in jail?" They concluded: almost certainly not.

LPR believes Rashbaum and Bromwich were remiss in not discussing the source of any former president's "round-the-clock Secret Service detail." The source of Secret Service lifetime protection for former presidents is The Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012.

This Wikipedia article describes The Former Presidents Act, which provides a range of benefits to former president, including pension and office with staff, and The Former Presidents Protect Act of 2013, which provides lifetime Secet Service protection of former presidents.


It seems fair to say, with respect to Secret Service protection for former presidents, that it is the public policy of the federal government that the lives of former presidents will be protected, "round-the-clock." LPR has seen no provision in the laws pertaining to former presidents that these laws will not apply if the former president is convicted of crime. It seems fair to conclude that it remains the public policy of the federal government to protect the life of a former president who has been convicted of a crime.

It is, therefore, very difficult to imagine that a former president convicted of a crime would be deprived his Secret Service protection. It follows that it is absurd to contemplate that a former president would be sentenced to prison, accompanied by a "round-the-clock Secret Service detail."

Some rabid zealot might proceed to sputter and fume: "But no one is above the law." Except, of course, that there is a "law' protecting the lives of former presidents, however much a crazed zealot would not oppose a prison term that results in an execution of politically-disfavored former presidents.

So what is to be done if a politically-zealous prosecutor obtains a conviction of former president Trump who remains "former president" per U.S. law.

LPR's answer: house arrest, if that. Sorry, you persons afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome, you are not going to see the 45th former president in a Sing Sing jail cell.

LPR suggests that the reason the media, per the example of Rashbaum and Bromwich in the New York Times, have not pointed to federal law on the subject of former presidents is, of course, because the image of a Trump behind bars gladdens their mean-spirited hearts.