‘Uncharted territory’: 5 Secret Service experts say there’s no playbook for dragging a defiant president from the White House if he doesn’t concede by Inauguration Day

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The Secret Service has never had to drag a president out of the White House. And there’s no obvious government playbook on how to handle a commander-in-chief who refuses to budge when his replacement shows up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 

President Donald Trump refuses to concede the election and some of his top officials say they’re still preparing for a second term despite Joe Biden’s victory. This all has triggered speculation about how Trump might be physically removed from the White House when the new president is sworn in on January 20. 

It’s even a hot topic in a private group chat involving former Secret Service officials and Department of Homeland Security alumni from both Republican and Democratic administrations, according to a former Obama administration DHS official.

Biden’s team has said the government would have no trouble removing “trespassers” from the White House if it comes down to that on Inauguration Day. 

But how exactly would that go down? 

Insider interviewed 5 former officials who worked for the US Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security about what the government would do if Trump won’t go voluntarily. They all agreed it’s not among the long list of incidents they’d ever had to practice for, and worry it could put the agencies in an uncomfortable position.

‘We’re not there to evict people’ 

A worst-case scenario that appears unlikely but not entirely out of the question: A newly sworn-in President  Biden shows up at the White House on January 20, ready to sign a pile of executive orders. But Trump insists he’s still president, and he won’t leave his desk in the Oval Office. 

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“That’s when you really get to the ultimate flashpoint,” said one former senior DHS official. “I can’t imagine it ever getting to that point, but in this environment, there’s a lot of firsts.” 

There’s usually a clear script for presidential power handovers. The departing president hosts the president-elect at the White House on the morning of January 20 before they ride together to the US Capitol for the inaugural ceremony. Afterward, the ex-president and his family fly away in a helicopter. Meanwhile, staffers back at the White House swap out the outgoing president’s belongings for the new first family’s. 

But it’s unclear whether those formalities will take place in January, or whether a spurned Trump would even attend the inauguration ceremonies. There’s speculation that he might opt to leave town entirely, or that he might not leave the White House and continue to dispute the election outcome. 

If that happens, many government experts predict that Trump’s physical removal from office would come down to the Secret Service — an agency within DHS that’s charged with protecting the president and also with evicting trespassers from the White House. But that’s complicated for many reasons, including the fact that the Secret Service also protects former presidents, which Trump would become on the afternoon of Inauguration Day. 

The Secret Service agents who are assigned to protecting the current president have every right to say to the ex-president, “You have to …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics

      

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