SAG-AFTRA Takes Disciplinary Action Against Donald Trump

It’s unclear what—if any—impact the union’s move would have on the soon-to-be former president’s ability to work in TV post-Oval Office

UPDATE: 1 p.m. — At a special session this morning, SAG-AFTRA’s national board of directors “overwhelmingly” voted to find probable cause that outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump violated the union’s constitution when he took part in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

The SAG-AFTRA Constitution includes an article that prohibits “engaging in actions antagonistic to the interests or integrity of the union,” which represents thousands of broadcast journalists along with actors and others in entertainment.

“Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred—democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press,” said union president and actress Gabrielle Carteris, who requested that national executive director David White initiate charges against Trump. “There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.”

If Trump is found guilty by the union’s disciplinary committee, he could be expelled from the union, but it’s unclear what effect that will have on a potential post-presidency push to return to TV.

9:30 a.m. — On Tuesday morning, industry labor union SAG-AFTRA’s national board of directors will reportedly meet and discuss taking steps to expel former reality show host and (very) soon-to-be former President of the United States Donald Trump.

According to Deadline, the board will discuss violations to Article XIV of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, which opens the door to suspending members “engaging in actions antagonistic to the interests or integrity of the union.” Trump spent years promoting the dangerous notion that journalists—which SAG-AFTRA counts among its 160,000-strong membership—are enemies of the people, but the tipping point was apparently the President’s participation in inciting an anti-democratic insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Even if the board decides to proceed with discipline that could lead to Trump’s expulsion from the union, a process Deadline says could take weeks, it’s unclear whether his lack of membership would hinder his ability to pursue work in TV once he’s vacated the Oval Office. While some Hollywood insiders have said having his SAG card revoked would spell the end of his future entertainment industry ambitions, Deadline says the pension he currently receives for previous work wouldn’t be affected, “nor would he be prevented from working in SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction.” SAG-AFTRA hasn’t commented on the matter, but according to a recent financial disclosure, Trump currently collects a pension of upward of $90,000 a year.

Even prior to his boardroom debut on The Apprentice franchise, which he hosted from 2004 till 2015, Trump played himself in a slew of movies and TV shows, from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York to Sex and the City. He’s been a member of the union—formerly separate entities, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—since 1989.

It’s long been speculated that Trump will attempt to parlay his chaotic one-term presidency into a TV network all his own. In October, The Week reported that smarmy son-in-law Jared Kushner has been in talks about launching a Trump-branded media property. Still, some say his brand may be too tarnished to thrive.

The job market might be similarly tough for the mouthpieces who’ve helped prop him up over the past four years. After the events of January 6, Forbes editor Randall Lane announced that his publication would scrutinize companies that hire Trump’s former press secretaries: “Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet.”

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