One of the US secret service's primary duties is to provide protection to the POTUS, but what if the POTUS were to become homicidal and take an unprovoked violent action against an apparently non-violent target?

What actions would the presidential security detail be expected to take should the President, as an example, start a punching a journalist that recently asked, from the presidents perspective, an offensive and inappropriate question?

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    @SleepingGod - but then the agents holding him back might be interpreted as assaulting the president, so other agents would step in and kick their butts...... Jun 5, 2017 at 16:22
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    @PoloHoleSet this is unlikely at best, remember they work as teams often training for years together. They would be well trained in communicating and reaching a concensus very quickly as to hold back a president Jun 5, 2017 at 17:18
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    @SleepingGod - yes, but humorous vignettes offered entirely as jokes rarely have to be extremely likely. Jun 5, 2017 at 17:19
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    There is no safe way to fistfight. If the president is physically involved in a confrontation I would be very surprised if the secret service cared who started it. Other guy(s) on the floor, president out the door.
    – user9389
    Jun 5, 2017 at 18:05
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    @PoloHoleSet - prior to 2000s and all the USSS scandals, I'd say "USSS hires intelligent people who'd clearly obviously interpret 'save the President from his own temper' as valid reason for (in)action' ". You can get hurt physically, punching someone (never mind, political self damage).
    – user4012
    Jun 5, 2017 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


While we haven't had a recent example, after somebody attempted to assassinate former President Andrew Jackson, Jackson proceeded to assault the man with his cane, at which point the Secret Service pulled Jackson off of the would-be assassin before he could kill him. I imagine that if they would pull the president off a would-be assassin, they would certainly restrain him from assaulting an innocent reporter.

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    The Andrew Jackson incident was in 1835. The Secret Service wasn't established until 1865 and wasn't tasked with protecting the POTUS' personal safety until 1901. So the people who restrained Jackson were not Secret Service agents.
    – Philipp
    Jun 5, 2017 at 19:18
  • In 1842 the first presidentail security force was established for the white house but would be expanded during the civil war to protect the president everywhere. whitehousehistory.org/secret-service-and-the-presidents Jun 5, 2017 at 19:42
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    Interestingly enough Davy Crockett was one of the men who saved the would be assassin Jun 5, 2017 at 20:16
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    Cool, got proof? ;)
    – Tirous
    Jun 5, 2017 at 20:56
  • @Tirous According to the Smithsonian, "Navy Lieutenant Thomas Gedney and Tennessee congressman Davy Crockett had subdued Lawrence and hurried the president off to a carriage so he could be transported to the White House"
    – CGCampbell
    May 18, 2022 at 11:59

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