It is a question of when, not if. Whether it be for treason, obstruction of justice, money laundering or some combination of the aforementioned crimes, Donald Trump’s days as a free man are numbered. His attempts to taint and obstruct the investigation will only delay, not prevent his downfall. The two most common questions are whether he’ll be convicted of federal or state crimes, and whether that will occur while he’s in or out of office. But there is a third question that gets no attention.
How do you punish a former President who gets extraordinary Secret Service protection while in office, and scaled-down, but still very formidable protection as a private citizen? Your fantasies about Trump in the general population with other inmates in a federal or state prison are likely to go unrealized. The security detail is supposed to extend for ten years after leaving office. I am unaware of there being a clause where that gets forfeited when jurors return guilty verdicts.
It seems absurd that some Secret Service agents would be given the assignment of protecting Trump behind bars. Considering his unpopularity, some form of isolation from other inmates would be mandatory. The other alternative is house arrest, but when you have luxury residences spread around the country, that lackluster punishment would be unjustified. A suspended sentence or probation would be even more outrageous. Just imagine how apoplectic those committed to sentencing and prison reform would be.
There is only one alternative for inmate Trump: a prison for one will need to be built or remodeled. It could be a form of house arrest, but without living in the lap of luxury. Trump would be forced to live in a much more modest home than he is used to, without the freedom to travel, golf, or party. To end on an especially snarky note, wherever Donald Trump resides, his Twitter privileges need to be permanently revoked. Regardless, the question of how you punish a former President is a complicated one.
J.H. Norton is a communications professional, life-long Democrat, and married father of two boys living in Washington, D.C.