- Former President Donald Trump left the White House six months ago.
- He’s had a post-presidential transition team. But the staffers won’t get government paychecks after today.
- Trump didn’t spend his transition thinking about his presidential library.
Some outgoing presidents spend the months after they exit the White House winding down their political careers, planning their presidential libraries, and preparing for semi-retirement as elder statesmen.
Not Donald Trump.
Wednesday marks six months since Trump begrudgingly left the White House while contesting the 2020 election results and plotting a potential comeback in 2024. It also marks the official end of his post-presidential transition period, meaning the government will cease to provide Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence with funding for staff and office space to wrap up their official transition duties.
Some of Trump’s transition aides will likely lose their government salaries this week as the transition formally comes to a close.
Taxpayer-funded Trump transition staffers include former high-ranking White House aides Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino, according to General Services Administration documents obtained by Insider under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Other aides on Trump’s post-presidency transition payroll included Molly Michael, Nicholas Luna, Beau Harrison, Hayley D’Antuono, Marcia Kelly, Eliza Thurston, and Desiree Thompson Sayle.
In all, Trump’s transition staff of at least 17 people was expected to receive about $1.3 million in federal salary and benefits from January 20 to July 21, according to an estimate prepared by the GSA and released to Insider.
All members of Trump’s transition team will be offboarded on July 21, according to GSA, but some of them will be onboarded on July 22 as members of the former president’s official post-presidency staff.
After the six-month presidential transition is over, another law stipulates that former presidents get a smaller amount of federal funding for staff. Trump can continue to use up to $150,000 per year in federal funds to pay staff for 2 1/2 years, according to a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service. After that, he can use $96,000 per year to pay staff.
Trump’s office did not respond to a request for comment about which staffers, if any, will remain on his taxpayer-funded post-presidential staff.
Not a typical transition
Most ex-presidents have laid low for the months after their White House exits.
Outgoing presidents typically use those six months to organize their documents, think about their legacies, and plan for presidential libraries, said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.
“There’s been an expectation that former presidents become statesmen and look for ways that they can contribute to the well-being of our society,” Stier said.
But Trump’s transition, like his presidency, has in no way been conventional.
Trump continues to falsely assert he won the 2020 presidential election. He’s encouraged a partisan “forensic audit” of ballots in Arizona. He’s attacked President Joe Biden and endorsed loyal Republican allies.
In contrast, Trump has expressed no interest in talking about or planning for a presidential library because he thinks that’s a signal to donors and allies that he’s ready for retirement, according to two people close to him.
“President Trump has been pretty firm in his belief that once you start talking about the library, that’s like announcing your retirement officially,” one Trump advisor told Insider.
Other former presidents want to construct buildings to embody their legacies, that person said, pointing to former President Bill Clinton’s library in Little Rock, Arkansas, which the Trump advisor said looked like “trailer trash,” and a “double-wide on stilts.”
But Trump will say, “I have all these buildings and all these courses,” that person said. He “will point to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, and be like, ‘Hey guys, this is what a building looks like.'”
Having a library “isn’t a big driver” for Trump, the advisor said, but “do I think there’ll be one at some point? Of course.”
Historians and Trump’s critics have been speculating since before he left office that the former president might use his library as a venue to airbrush his legacy and attack his political opponents.
The National Archives launched a website for the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library on the day he left office, but Trump’s team hasn’t publicly announced any plans for a physical structure to house his presidential documents.
Another person close to the former president said members of Trump’s team had been in discussions about a library in early January but that the January 6 attack on the US Capitol “effectively killed” those talks amid concerns that donors wouldn’t want to finance such a project when Trump was under scrutiny for his role in encouraging the protesters.
Trump’s six-figure pension
Regardless of how Trump spends his first year out of office, he’s still entitled to all the trappings of former US presidents, including federal funding for staff, lifetime Secret Service protection, and a government pension.
Trump has received $99,323 in pension payments since he left the White House on January 20, the GSA told Insider last week.
Former presidents are entitled to pensions under a law called the Former Presidents Act. Their pay is equal to the salary of Cabinet secretaries, which is $221,400 in 2021.
Each year of his presidency, Trump donated his $400,000 annual salary to make good on his campaign promise that he wouldn’t keep taxpayer cash if elected.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to Insider’s request for comment about whether he’s kept his federal pension payments since leaving office.
Secret Service protection?
The six-month mark after Trump’s administration could also mark the end of Secret Service protection for former Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s adult children, though Trump is entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection. Former First Lady Melania Trump is also entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection; Barron Trump is entitled to protection until he turns 16.
The law provides former vice presidents with Secret Service protection for six months after the end of an administration, though the Biden administration can provide Pence with additional temporary protection if officials deem that it’s warranted.
On his way out of office, Trump issued a directive to extend Secret Service protection for six months to his four adult children and three outgoing administration officials: former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former national security advisor Robert C. O’Brien, The Washington Post reported.
Asked whether the Secret Service has extended protections for any of those people, an agency spokeswoman Julia McMurray said that “as a matter of practice, the Secret Service does not discuss protective operations or protectees.”
As the transition operation wraps up, Trump and Pence staffers will need to vacate the Arlington, Virginia, office space they’ve been occupying, a GSA spokesperson said. Next week, crews are slated to remove cable and haul out furniture and IT equipment.
Trump and his staff can keep using the computers and office supplies — like the plastic floor mat for Trump’s chair — that they bought using federal transition funding, the spokesperson said, but they remain the property of the federal government.
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