President Trump has made some... remarkable and entertaining... remarks about his willingness to leave the White House if he should loose the POTUS election in November. This got me thinking. I'm not a lawyer or a politician, but I have been trained all my life to simply "know" that the White House is where the POTUS lives. Period. The idea that somebody might not leave it is... well... it's unique.

Is there a portion of the U.S. code requires a past-president to vacate the White House? I suspect it's technically owned by the United States Government and, as landlord, said government has the right to evict whomever it wants ... but even the image of The Donald hanging on by his fingernails while sunglass-laden G-men holding, not a warrant, not a subpoena, but an eviction notice drag him out. It would make a good play. But I digress.

Is there a law that states the building must be vacated? (As a bonus question, is it possible to invoke squatter's rights for the White House?)

Please note that my question is, I believe, a duplicate of this question, except that the answers don't address the legality that the question implies. If I need to abandon this question for that one, I'm happy to, but I don't have enough rep to bounty that question and point out that no answer describes any law enforcing anything.

  • 1
    I think the more interesting thought experiment is what the ex-president's lifetime Secret Service detail is going to do when the new president's Secret Service detail arrives on the scene to bodily remove the ex-president.
    – user662852
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 13:30
  • 1
    @user662852 The old president's detail would probably remove him themselves. They're federal law enforcement, not private bodyguards.
    – cpast
    Commented Sep 3, 2020 at 20:24
  • This question was down-voted today. I wonder if it would have been down-voted had Pres. Trump won and the issue become moot?
    – JBH
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


18 USC 1752:

(a) Whoever— (1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so; [...] shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).

(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is— (1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if— (A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or (B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and (2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.

(c) In this section— (1) the term “restricted buildings or grounds” means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area— (A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds; [...]

An ex-president does not have "lawful authority" to occupy the building. They may be not only removed, but also arrested and criminally prosecuted.

"Squatter's rights" or other eviction protections would come from the District of Columbia's local laws, over which federal law takes precedence. So they would not apply here.

  • I think DC law explicitly excludes federal property from its scope, so it's not really a question of federal law taking precedence (besides, the DC code is also federal law).
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 4:27

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