Secret Service Has No Plan if Trump Refuses to Leave White House

If there are any checklists or plans, procedures, or guidelines for the Secret Service to follow in the event of an autogolpe—a crisis in which a sitting president refuses to transfer power—a half-dozen former officials privy to the government’s most sensitive contingency plans aren’t aware of them.

None would speak for the record, owing to both the secrecy of the plans and to the sensitivity of the moment: They don’t want to encourage President Donald Trump to cross a line that authorities haven’t conceived of.

The Daily Beast pressed these officials to run through scenarios on the grounds that Trump has made a sport of turning the inconceivable into the how the hell did that just happen?

These officials, who include leaders of Secret Service presidential details, agency heads, and military planners, see two distinct issues.

One is: Will there be a question about who the president really is? The other: What happens if, in a fit of pique, the former president simply will not vacate the seat of American government.

“I’d have a conversation with the chief of staff, and then the family, Ivanka, and the other kids, and say, it’s going to be your job to make sure he’s gone.”

— former senior Secret Service official

You Might Like

The first question is easy to answer. After the certification of the Electoral College on Jan. 6, the White House Military Office will prepare a briefing for President-elect Joe Biden on the contents of the president’s emergency satchel, often known as “the football,” with a secure satellite phone and laminated nuclear-war option guide inside. They will accept, from the National Security Agency, a set of presidential authentication cards, known as biscuits, that will be active the moment Biden is sworn in. Each has two columns of letters and numbers on it, and are used by the Pentagon emergency-action controllers to positively identify the president.

If past is prologue, Biden will receive the procedural briefing on Jan. 19 and a military aide will be assigned to him immediately, hours before the inauguration. (As vice president, he received similar briefings and the process hasn’t changed, according to officials.)

President Trump’s nuclear authentication card won’t work after the swearing-in. So far as the U.S. military is concerned, it doesn’t matter where the president is; billions of dollars have been spent to ensure the commander-in-chief can execute a war plan from anywhere on earth, even if he can’t immediately occupy the White House. There will be no ambiguity, these officials said, even if Trump were to try something extraordinary. The Pentagon’s command and control centers would not accept his orders.

What if Trump won’t go?

What if he sits down at the Resolute Desk and dares someone to physically remove him? What if he occupies a couch in the residence? The harm here is real, beyond how ridiculous the performance would look to the rest of the world: A functional president requires a functioning office.

Former senior government agency heads and Secret Service detail leaders pushed to think through this scenario offered several plausible solutions. “I think I’d have a conversation with the chief of staff, and then the family, Ivanka and the other kids and say, ‘It’s going to be your job to make sure he’s gone,’” a former senior Secret Service official said.

Another possibility: “When the staff leaves on January 19, don’t let them back into the complex the next day. He can’t do anything without his staff.”

An isolated president, in other words, would be more susceptible to just throwing in the towel.

“I really think it would be up the Republican Party if he were to try something like that,” a second former official said. “The Service and the military would just not want to get involved. It’s not our role.” (Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said there is “zero” role for troops to play in the election or its aftermath.)

A movie ending is not in the cards, either, because the Secret Service’s Presidential Protective Division (PPD) immediately transfers its resources to the incoming president on Jan. 20. In other words, there won’t be a “Biden detail” in a shooting war with the PPD because the PPD becomes the Biden detail the moment the president is inaugurated.

And no one should worry about loyalties, either. The Secret Service’s deputy director, Leonza Newsome III, was the head of Biden’s vice-presidential detail during the Obama administration.

But what would happen if Trump simply said no?

“Well, I guess by law he would be a trespasser,” a former Secret Service agent said. “We’d have to escort him out.”

23 Replies to “Secret Service Has No Plan if Trump Refuses to Leave White House”

  1. Dennis Massey

    Biden is a joke and incapable of being a realistic sitting president. He has no real American support except for die hard liberals that really know he is not going to run the country, it will be Harris which will be the biggest mistake ever in the history of our country. Her actions and policies will literally destroy life as we know it because she is not a true American patriot that believes in the true American democratic way of life. Her goal is to turn our beloved country in to a socialist country and she will give in to our enemies like China, Russia and Middle East factions along with North Korea. Yes my friends we are headed for some of the darkest days and years we have ever seen. I hope those idiots like Maxine waters, Pelosi, shumer and nailer a satisfied that they have helped to achieve total anarchy by supporting the democratic farce that will eventually become a total disaster. They could never just see the writing on the wall as to how good this country was managed by president Donald trump. God have mercy on us.

    • MostlySilent

      You nailed it. This election fraud will not stand. The American people will take the reins as necessary, backed up by the Second Amendment, if all else fails, as per the Constitution. Harris/Biden will not set foot in the White House as president. Gitmo for them however, is another story.

    • Mark Niblack

      Well, I disagree with all of those statements. But I would ask only one thing of you. I wish you would make a list of every terrible thing that you expect the incoming administration to do. And in four years, when we have the next presidential election, you revisit your list to see if any of those things were true.

  2. Dennis Massey

    I hope and pray that the patriotic american public will continue to support Donald trump and refuse to accept Biden as the next president of the United States along with all of his cronies. He didn’t earn it nor does he deserve it because in fact it was taken by fraud and false premises. I would not be surprised to see seccesion by many states.

    • anthony wilson

      Only one state has the State Constitutional provision to secede from the United States and that state is Texas, based upon what I have read.

  3. anthony wilson

    Interesting, but just in case the Insurrection Act of 1807 has been invoked by Trump if there is major chaos throughout the land from Jan 6-Jan 19 per se, then your above article takes second place as to the Constitutional authority given to Trump if he invokes the Act to stay in office and potentially re-elected by the House of Representatives as outlined by the Constitution.

  4. Terry

    I hope he gets four more years and not let that Idiot Biden and Harris in there
    They will Destroy America and the
    American 🇺🇸 people if we let them.
    Those two hate Americans period And
    the United States, anyone who would
    do a deal with Iran has to be Nuts .
    President Trump Won the Election and
    Everyone knows it

  5. Bo.

    If trump refuses to leave the White House on January 21 get security to pick him up by his corrupt lawless. FAT ass and throw him to the street. Good bye. Solong. See ya. Get lost. Don’t come back. The American people are sick and tired of your incompetent ass

  6. MostlySilent

    You nailed it. This election fraud will not stand. The American people will take the reins as necessary, backed up by the Second Amendment, if all else fails, as per the Constitution. Harris/Biden will not set foot in the White House as president. Gitmo for them however, is another story.

  7. Jim Reid

    Leave President Trump in power or you will all live to regret it he is the only one who can save you all at this stage and he has done a lot to fix the economy . DO NOT LET THIS EVIL ENTITY BIDEN into power if you do America is finished

  8. No.

    Please tell me what trump has done in the last 6 weeks. Except screw the American people and play golf nearly every day. Who the hell wants some worthless incompetent child acting like a spoiled punk to be our president

  9. CaptainBuck

    While we are building speculation castles in the sky, how about these:

    1. Trump builds a time machine and transports us all back to 2016 for another run at it with corrections.
    2. Trump hijacks a tank from the local armory and hides it in the oval office where he will make his stand.
    3. Alien Justice Warriors from a distant Galaxy arrive to see that the election is overturned.
    4. On the twelfth hour Obama converts to Christianity and to save his soul admits he fixed the election.
    5. In 2022 we elect Trump to the Senate, and then in 2024 to the Presidency again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *