Rules Donald Trump Will Have To Follow If He Loses The Election

As a former two-term vice president, Democratic challenger Joe Biden is in a good place to say what life will look like after January 20, which is Inauguration Day for the new president — if the outgoing occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump, is unsuccessful in his bids to challenge the election via various lawsuits.

We already know what Biden plans to do if the unexpected happens and the current results of the election are reversed. During one town hall, he said he would return to his former life as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania (via ABC News). And we would expect that Trump would return to his life as a businessman at the helm of the Trump Organization (via Miller Center). 

But life doesn't exactly go back to normal for anyone after they serve as president of the United States. The position is so unique that there are several laws in place that spell out what retired presidents are meant to do. One such act, the Former Presidents Act, covers aspects of life after the presidency, including pensions and allowances they are entitled to, as well as a budget of $1 million in taxpayer funding for security and travel expenses. There are also a few other things that former presidents are expected to tick off their checklists.

Donald Trump will be expected to open a library

As a member of the most exclusive group in the world, Trump is expected to open a library in his name. The practice of setting up a library is neither mentioned in the act, nor is it addressed in the constitution, but it is enshrined in the Presidential Libraries Act, which became law in 1955. The first president to open a library actually predates the act: Franklin D Roosevelt who worried that the records from his administration might either be lost or sold, and he wanted a place to keep his memoirs (via The Washington Post).

Because the presidents fund the libraries where their papers are stored, they get the chance to remember their time in office their way. For instance, Bill Clinton's library doesn't say much about Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that led to impeachment; and the George W. Library defends his more controversial calls like the invasion of Iraq. That said, we can only wonder at the kind of tales a Trump Library might tell.

Donald Trump will need to accept the Secret Service being everywhere

If you're a former president, you'll need to get used to the Secret Service being forever at your side — unless you specifically ask for them to be withdrawn (via Mental Floss). This means agents will be on hand to check all mail, as well as packages they think might be suspicious (via Bloomberg Law). Former presidents (and vice presidents, like Biden) are also not allowed to operate any kind of motor vehicles on public roads. Instead, they are driven around by agents, who are trained in "evasive and defensive driving maneuvers. One retired agent has said: "For the most part, the Secret Service's preference would be to drive the former presidents at all times," but there have been times when our former leaders have broken with the rules. The late Ronald Reagan drove his Jeeps around his ranch near Santa Barbara, California. As one agent recalls, "Everything was completely open. No seat belts. He's driving and I'm thinking: 'If we go over the edge, how I'm going to drag him out of that car?" George W. Bush also enjoys getting around his ranch in Texas in his pickup truck. 

This particular Secret Service rule has irked Joe Biden already. He owns a 1967 Chevy Corvette convertible, and he's told Car and Driver that being banned from driving was "the one thing I hate about this job" (via Sydney Morning Herald). 

Donald Trump will be expected to avoid criticizing the new president

We know President Donald Trump loves his nicknames and that they make regular appearances on his Twitter feed. But when he steps down now or in four years' time, he'll have to curb his enthusiasm for criticizing everything he doesn't like on social media. That's because there is an unwritten protocol for the former president not to critique the current holder of the office (via The New York Times).

The worst offender of this unofficial rule to date was former President Jimmy Carter, when in 2007, he called the Bush administration "the worst in history." He eventually walked his comment back, claiming he had been quoted out of context. Still, this rule has had many other offenders. Theodore Roosevelt was no fan of his successors William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson, even calling Taft a "puzzlewit" and a "fathead." And the gloves have come off somewhat during the current election cycle, with former President Barack Obama coming out swinging against Trump on the campaign trail, according to The New York Times.