Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 21, 2023

Donald Trump is a former U.S. president, not the current commander in chief

If Your Time is short

  • Donald Trump is a former president of the United States. President Joe Biden is the commander in chief. 

Amid speculation about the possible arrest of former President Donald Trump in connection with hush money paid to a woman several years ago, a recent Facebook post argues there’s nothing "former" about his title. 

"He’s not the former president according to federal and military laws and orders," the March 20 post says. It goes on to argue that under the U.S. Constitution, Trump is still commander in chief because he "became a wartime president in March 2020 with his direct order to federalize the National Guard to active duty." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

As we’ve previously reported on multiple occasions in response to conspiracy theories like this one, Trump is a former president, and President Joe Biden is the commander in chief. Trump left office in January 2021, when Biden was inaugurated. 

Trump did declare himself a "wartime president" in March 2020 as the country tried to stop the spread of COVID-19, then relatively new on the scene. 

Featured Fact-check

But only Congress can declare war, and plenty of administrations have mobilized the U.S. National Guard without the expectation that they’d stay in office after they were voted out, as Trump was.

The Constitution, meanwhile, clearly states that the president "shall hold his office during the term of four years." 

In a March 18 Truth Social post, Trump even referred to himself as a "former president." 

We rate claims that Trump is still president and commander in chief Pants on Fire!


Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Donald Trump is a former U.S. president, not the current commander in chief

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up