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Secret Service Protection Would Complicate Any Trump Prison Term

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

If convicted in any criminal case, Donald Trump may be able to influence whether he goes to prison and what his stay looks like under a law that allows former presidents to keep Secret Service protection for life. Presidents since 1965 have been afforded lifetime protection. Only Richard M. Nixon waived it. Trump could force politically and logistically complex questions over whether officials should detail agents to protect a former president behind bars, leave it to prison authorities to keep him safe, or secure him under some type of home confinement, reports the Washington Post. Could Trump face prison? Former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg said any "judge ought to understand it raises enormous and unprecedented logistical issues,. Probation, fines, community service and home confinement are all alternatives.”

The charges Trump faces come with the possibility of decades in prison, though pleas, verdicts and possible punishments are far off. Mary McCord, former acting assistant attorney general for national security, said that ensuring some penalty for a former president under Secret Service detail would require extensive discussions and potential accommodations, “because it really would be a pretty enormous burden on our prison system to have to incarcerate Donald Trump.” Former and current Secret Service agents said that while there is no precedent, the agency would insist on providing some form of 24/7 protection to an imprisoned former president. Agents said Trump’s detail would coordinate their protection work with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ensure there was no conflict about duties or about how they would handle emergencies, as well as the former president’s routine movements in a prison, such as heading to exercise or meals. The Secret Service, they said, would maintain a bubble around Trump in any case, keeping him at a distance from other inmates. Judges almost never apply maximum penalties to first offenders and rarely stack sentences rather than let them run concurrently. Under federal sentencing guidelines, specialists estimate that a first offender convicted of multiple counts of willfully retaining national defense information and obstructing or conspiring to obstruct an investigation by concealing evidence might face anything from 51 to 63 months on the low end — about five years — to 17½ to 22 years on the high end — or about 20 years.


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