Two Democratic lawmakers will introduce a bill that would strip former presidents of pension and other benefits if they were convicted of a felony — legislation that seems to be aimed directly at former President Donald Trump, who is presently the subject of numerous investigations.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) have authored the Restoring and Enforcing Accountability of Presidents (REAP) Act, which would change portions of the Former Presidents Act of 1958 by disallowing former chief executives of the $219,200 annual pension if they are convicted of a felony during or after leaving the White House. The bill would also revoke budget payments for other expenses like post-presidential staff or office space reimbursements.
However, the bill would leave some benefits in place, including Secret Service protection for former presidents and their family, even if they’re convicted of a felony.
The bill does not single out Trump by name, but it appears to be authored with him in mind, as he faces a number of different investigations presently in at least two states where he could be charged with a felony.
In Georgia, Trump is under investigation for comments he made during a telephone conversation with Republican State Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Upset with the outcome of the presidential election in that state — current President Joe Biden won in Georgia by less than 12,000 votes — Trump pressured Raffensperger to find ways to alter the result, including a request to “find” the exact number of votes needed to overturn Biden’s win.
It is a felony crime in Georgia for anyone to solicit, request or command another person to engage in election fraud.
Trump also faces legal troubles in New York, where Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is investigating whether the former president, who used to reside in the state, engaged in banking, insurance or tax fraud over the past decade.
Vance has attempted to obtain tax records from Trump for the past 18 months in order to determine whether charges should be made against him. Trump’s legal team has tried to stop those records from reaching Vance’s office, and has sued to block their release two times all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.
On Monday, the Court decided against hearing additional arguments from Trump’s lawyers. Later that day, Vance’s office received the tax records.
Those records will not be released publicly, as they are bound to secrecy under grand jury investigation rules.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had promised that he would make his tax records accessible, as every major presidential candidate had done since the 1970s. Yet Trump never did, claiming that an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit prevented him from releasing the records to the public. The IRS later clarified that audits wouldn’t prevent presidential candidates from sharing their tax records.
Many have speculated on what Trump’s taxes might contain, including shady sources of income or the actual status of his wealth. Former Trump “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in 2019 that the former president’s banking and tax records would likely reveal fraudulent activity.
“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen said in February that year.