Secret Service to Hunter Biden: We’d Have Your Back in Jail

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

After his conviction on three felony firearm charges, Hunter Biden departed federal court in Delaware with the Secret Service detail he is provided as the son of a sitting president.

“Hunter Biden’s Secret Service protection will remain unchanged despite today’s judicial outcome,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the U.S. Secret Service, told The Daily Beast.

The Secret Service is not required to protect the children of a sitting president who are over 16, but has traditionally done so. Hunter Biden—whose Secret Service codename is “Captain”—will almost certainly still have the detail when he returns to court for sentencing, which is expected to be in about 120 days. And if he gets time in federal prison, the Secret Service will be faced with the question of how to protect someone who is behind bars.

This may be a first, depending on the sentencing of Donald Trump in the New York State Supreme Court on July 11. If both men get jail time and the particular sentences overlap, the history of the Office of Protective Operations of the Secret Service could conceivably be protecting two inmates, one a former Republican president, and the other the son of a sitting Democratic president, in separate prisons.

“If you asked me, even five years ago, let alone 25 years ago, would I ever see this happen, the answer would have been a hard no,” a former Secret Service supervisor told The Daily Beast.

Joe and Hunter Biden Share Emotional Embrace After Conviction

Should Biden lose the upcoming election while his son is incarcerated, Hunter could lose his detail, though the former supervisor figures that Trump would likely extend the protection, any grudges aside. The Secret Service will remain obligated to protect Trump as a former president no matter what the outcome.

The problem of protecting a former president in jail was already pondered by the Secret Service during the hush money trial, when Judge Juan Merchan said that he might, reluctantly, have to jail Trump if he continued to defy a gag order.

At the time, the Secret Service and New York Corrections officials told The Daily Beast that they figured Trump could be lodged in a holding cell behind the courtroom if the judge just wanted to chastise him for a few hours. Anything longer presented a more complicated problem.

The matter became moot when the threat proved sufficient to muffle Trump’s tantrums. But the incarceration issue will again arise if Merchan sentences Trump to jail time.

On Monday, Trump was given a pre-sentencing interview by the Department of Probation, which will prepare a report for the judge. Such interviews are usually in person and one-on-one for more than an hour. Security concerns explain why Trump’s was conducted virtually. But there was no immediate explanation why it lasted less than half an hour, with his lawyer and several other people present.

“I don’t know why that was,” former New York City Department of Corrections Commissioner Martin Horn told The Daily Beast.

Horn noted that the reports provide a convicted person an opportunity to persuade the judge to give them a break.

“But you have to give the judge a reason,” Horn said.

Should Trump get jail time, Horn and others say the most likely place for him to be held would be the West Facility on Rikers Island. Inmates currently lodged there include Allen Weisselberg, the onetime Trump moneyman who is doing five months for perjury and is due to receive the second of three $250,000 payments from the Trump Organization in exchange for not cooperating with law enforcement.

Trump Is Still Paying Hush Money—to His Loyal Bean-Counter

Formerly the Contagious Disease Unit, the West Facility has a number of separate buildings with a half-dozen cells. The Secret Service could use one building to house Trump and his detail while keeping him separate from other inmates, including Weisselberg.

One complaint is a prohibition against firearms on Rikers Island that includes even corrections officers. The Secret Service would almost certainly insist on being armed.

“It’s a Terra Nova situation for everybody,” the former Secret Service supervisor said. “I think there’d have to be some sort of carve out for that.”

As for Hunter in a federal correctional facility, the supervisor figures the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons could form a joint task force.

Unlike sitting presidents, former officeholders can decline Secret Service protection. Richard Nixon did that in 1985, following the example of his wife, Pat, who opted out the year before to spare the government the expense.

Family members of sitting presidents can decline at any time, but Hunter Biden has given no indication that he plans to do so. He has received protection since his father assumed office, and at one point the Secret Service was obligated to pay $30,000 a month to rent a house near his residence in Malibu, California.

Unless he decides otherwise, Hunter will still have his detail when he arrives for sentencing in the months ahead. A prison term would land the agents behind bars along with him. And that would be a first—unless Trump and his detail have already made woeful history.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.