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Trump Never Arrested as President but Grant was

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Whilst Donald Trump holds the unedifying distinction of being the first president to be impeached twice - and has a tsunami of legal woes coming his way - he was never arrested as a serving commander in chief. That distinction goes to Ulysses S. Grant.

Donald Trump giving a rally speech
Donald Trump | Wikipedia

When police officer William Henry West pulled over Ulysses S. Grant for speeding in a horse-drawn carriage on the streets of Washington, D.C. in 1872, he issued the president a warning. The very next day, however, West caught Grant in the midst of another race with his friends. Looking like “a schoolboy who had been caught in a guilty act by his teacher,” as West recalled to the Evening Star in 1908, Grant reportedly asked, “Do you think, officer, that I was violating the speed laws?” Answering in the affirmative, West replied, “I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it, for you are the chief of the nation, and I am nothing but a policeman, but duty is duty, sir, and I will have to place you under arrest.”

Grant’s brush with the law marked the first and so far only time a sitting United States president has been arrested. But he’s not the only commander in chief to face criminal charges. Donald Trump, who was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury last week and will likely be arraigned today, is now the first former president to hold this distinction.

The charges against Trump have yet to be unsealed, but they’re believed to focus on a $130,000 payoff made to an adult-film actress during the 2016 presidential election. Comparatively, Grant’s speeding charge “was not a high crime, but [rather] - at least theoretically speaking - a misdemeanor,” says the Washington Post.



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