Donald Trump portrait
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally on August 05, 2022 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • The former Secret Service agents wondered who would protect Trump in prison.

  • If he's in state or federal custody, he's likely to keep a Secret Service detail.

  • The agents are not likely to share a cell with a convicted ex-president.

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Former agency officials told Insider that Donald Trump's Secret Service agents would be charged with protecting him even if he were to go to jail.

Law enforcement veterans are saying this because of an important reason.

The ongoing investigation of the US House's January 6 select committee is one of the many legal problems facing Donald Trump. Even as he flirts with a presidential comeback bid, Trump could be mired in federal, state, and local investigations and lawsuits for years.

The legal troubles of Trump have spurred ex-Secret Service agents and former Obama administration officials to wonder how agents would protect a president who's been convicted of a crime.

Douglas Smith was an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

The impact of having a president in jail on the Secret Service was not contemplated before Trump's presidency, according to a former Secret Service official.

Records from the first year of the Pandemic show that nearly 900 agents from the Secret Service contracted the disease. Trump's critics said he put agents at risk by ignoring public health recommendations. The Secret Service has come under scrutiny for the deletion of agents' text messages.

Federal law entitles ex-presidents to Secret Service protection for the rest of their lives. Insider spoke to former federal law enforcement officials and legal experts who said that unless Congress changed that, Trump or any other president would have some degree of security provided by the agency.

It's a topic that's gotten more attention as Trump's legal problems pile up, particularly given revelations about Trump's role ahead of and during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol that killed five people.

It's not likely that Trump will ever go to jail. More than one year after he left the White House, no federal, state, or local charges of any kind are publicly pending against the president. Even if Trump was charged with a crime, the chances of him being released on bond while he waits for his trial are very high. This would become a live-wire question if the people charged with protecting past presidents were convicted.

Is an agent going to be with him? The former Secret Service official guessed that Trump would end up in a country club if he is found guilty. Even if the person isn't walking on his shoulder out in the yard, there will likely be at least one agent on the property.

It isn't likely to be a coveted assignment for a Secret Service agent unless they are also studying to get their master's degree. You have a lot of time to read.

Secret Service officers could theoretically protect Trump within the confines of a prison, either physically near him or in an administrative office, according to an expert in prison oversight at the University of Texas at Austin.

Former US presidents are entitled to Secret Service protection for life.James Devaney/GC Images

'He would have a target on his back' 

Security experts don't think Trump would get into a fight with other inmates.

Ken Gray, a retired FBI special agent, said that he wouldn't be part of the general population.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is part of the Department of Justice and the Secret Service is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

A former Secret Service agent told Insider that a judge would have the final say on where the president would go.

The Otisville security camp is an example of where high-profile convicts would like to serve their time. In 2009, it made a Forbes list of America's 10 ugliest prisons. The Bureau of Prisons turned down the request of the famous Ponzi schemer to be sent there. The former Trump lawyer was released to home confinement last spring due to concerns about the coronaviruses, even though he was serving a 3-year prison sentence at Otisville.

The minimum-security federal prison camp is close to the Mar-a-Lago Club. Forbes has a list of the cushiest places.

The placement of Trump in prison would be determined by the state in which he was convicted, according to experts. In New York and Georgia, where Trump faces investigations into his business practices and taxes, he faces the most immediate legal danger.

The former agent said that Trump would be kept separate from other prisoners in a minimum security facility. It was possible to put him in a separate hut.

Other legal experts think that Trump would be housed in a more secure facility for his own safety and the protection of the prison.

Mike Lawlor is a criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven and a former undersecretary.

Law enforcement experts say that Trump's security would be prepared before he ever entered a prison. It's not something that security officials have had to plan for before when it comes to keeping an ex-president safe.

The former Secret Service official said that he was scared by the thought that he would go to jail. It's terrible to think about.

Deitch, who's also served as a court-appointed monitor on prison conditions, said that keeping someone of Trump's stature safe in prisons is difficult.

He said that Trump would have a target on his back.

She said that Trump would be placed in what's known as "protective custody," an extremely secure and restrictive situation that doesn't look much different from a solitary confinement setting. It's not a place you would want to live in.

President Richard Nixon declined Secret Service protection after he resigned from office.Bettmann/Getty Images

Congress could strip Trump's security

In the past, ex-government officials have gone to prison, but none have been as famous as the US president.

Nixon's critics wanted him to go to prison after the Watergate scandal, but Gerald Ford pardoned him a month after he left office.

Some of Trump's former associates were pardoned by the president before he left office.

Griles was sentenced to prison for obstructing a US Senate investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the lobbyist. He was in a low security federal prison.

During Bush's first year in office, the president's 19-year-old twin daughters were cited for alcohol violations. The Washington Post reported in 2001 that she was ordered to get counseling and perform community service after she tried to use a false ID to buy alcohol.

After leaving office, former presidents have the option to decline Secret Service protection. If Trump is sentenced to a prison term, experts think he would want to keep the extra level of protection.

The protections for former presidents could be taken away by congress. When a law was passed that would allow ex-presidents 10 years of Secret Service security, they did so. The law was changed when the Obama administration took office.

Experts don't know what Trump's legal future will be.

Gray said that this is new territory.

The original article was published in March of 2021.

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