If, during a fundraising dinner or a rally, a person in the reception
line were to punch the president of the U.S. (not lethally, just enough to bloody the nose), what would be the immediate and longer-term consequences? Asking for a friend. —Erasmus B. Natural

Ix-nay on the eason-tray, Erasmus; I'm on enough lists as it is.

While I sympathize with your concern that our chief executive may be dangerously incompetent (I worry not so much that he'll blunder into a war with North Korea as that he'll somehow find a way to lose), please do not attempt to punch him in the face.

As you might have suspected, it is more illegal to assault the president than it is to assault a regular person. Title 18 of the U.S. Code provides a penalty of up to 10 years for assaulting the chief. (According to the same law, assaulting the deputy secretary of agriculture—yes, it's in there—only gets you a year.)

You don't even have to land a punch for it to count as assault. In 2016, Sean Thompson found himself facing charges including battery and felony assault of a public official just for hitting the mayor of Sacramento in the face with a coconut cream pie.

And that was just a mayor (and just a pie). One can only imagine how humorless the authorities would become if you hit the president with your actual fist—a crime that is not only more serious but less funny.

It does make you wonder, though, what would happen if the president himself got hit with a pie. No sitting president has ever been successfully pied, though presidential candidate Ralph Nader took one to the face in 2003 (from an assailant/folk hero who was never apprehended).

Obviously, I do not advocate hitting any government official with any kind of pastry. No sir. That said, I understand that after the inevitable accession of President Honey Boo Boo in 2033, tossing doughnuts at the lectern will be not only tolerated but encouraged because, hey, doughnuts.