The 1958 Former Presidents Act assures that no president leaves office without being set for life—it guarantees a pension, access to health insurance, office space and staff, and Secret Service protection for as long as he or she wants it. There is, however, one exception: These perks are only granted to presidents who aren’t removed from office in an impeachment trial.
For Donald Trump, who boasts of being a billionaire (though one who appeared to be headed for financial troubles, even before Wednesday’s insurrection), the pension may not be a big deal. It is lavish, set to be $219,000 this year, but a fraction of what Trump earns from his business. But losing the Secret Service protection might be more painful. No one knows how much is spent on protecting former presidents—the Secret Service budget for that is kept secret—but it’s not a small number.
And not only would Trump have to pay for his own security, he would lose the ability to charge taxpayers when his protective detail stays at his properties around the globe. While in office, Trump has billed taxpayers more than $1.1. million for Secret Service personnel to stay at his properties, including renting the agency a cottage at his Bedminster golf course for $21,000 per month.
On Friday, House Democrats said they were moving quickly towards impeachment. They would need support from a substantial number of Senate Republicans in order to convict Trump; if the president were impeached but acquitted in the Senate, he would still have access to all of the post-presidency benefits. No president has ever been denied these benefits, and a government legal opinion in 1974 found that even Richard Nixon, who resigned but was not removed, was eligible.