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24 Apr, 2024 14:09

US Secret Service preparing to protect Trump in jail – NYT

The former president is at risk of being slapped with a short sentence for contempt of court
US Secret Service preparing to protect Trump in jail – NYT

The US Secret Service, which is tasked with protecting acting and former US presidents, is considering how to proceed if Donald Trump ends up behind bars, sources have told the New York Times.

On Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan withheld a decision on whether to hold Trump in contempt of court over alleged gag order violations at his trial. The hearings relate to felony charges of falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement of a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

It is not immediately clear when Merchan will announce a ruling. The NYT stressed in an article on Tuesday that the judge is likely to issue a warning or impose a fine before taking the “extreme step” of jailing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for a month at a holding cell in the courthouse.

Prosecutors, who claim that Trump attacked witnesses and other people associated with his case at least ten times on social media this month in violation of a gag order, are currently asking for a fine for the 77-year-old.

However, officials from the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies held a meeting last week, focused on how to move and protect Trump if the judge eventually orders him to be put in the court’s holding cell, two people familiar with the matter told the paper.

The issue of how to safely incarcerate the former president if the jury finds him guilty and he is sent to an actual prison “has yet to be addressed directly,” according to dozens of officials of various levels, who talked to the NYT. The paper stressed that if that happens, it will become a “daunting challenge” and a “logistical nightmare” for all agencies involved.

Trump, who is the first ever acting or former US president to go on trial, could face up to 136 years in prison as a result of four criminal cases against him.

According to the officials, if the former head of state is actually imprisoned, he would have to be held separately from other inmates, with all his food and other personal items undergoing screenings. In order to achieve this, a detail of agents would have to work 24/7, rotating in and out of the facility, they said. Firearms are strictly prohibited in US prisons, but those agents “would nonetheless be armed,” according to the sources.

A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed to the NYT that the agency guards former presidents, but declined to discuss any specific “protective operations.”