This Republican Actually Wants To Put Convict Trump’s Face On A $500 Bill

<span class="copyright">Illustration:Jianan Liu/HuffPost; Photo: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History,Getty Images</span>
Illustration:Jianan Liu/HuffPost; Photo: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History,Getty Images

Around the same time that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) was publicly slamming the Republican Party for its cult-like devotion to former President Donald Trump, one far-right Arizona lawmaker was busy finalizing legislation to honor the MAGA movement’s leader.

Rep. Paul Gosar’s new bill, dubbed the Treasury Reserve Unveiling Memorable Portrait (TRUMP) Act, would require the United States Treasury to print $500 bills with Trump’s face on them. No joke.

Gosar rolled out the bill just days after Trump became the first U.S. president ever convicted of a crime. A New York jury last week found him guilty of 34 felonies in a state-level criminal case that centered on hush money payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Gosar’s bill to celebrate the former president in the form of legal tender would break with decades of tradition — and flout a 150-year-old federal law that prohibits living persons being featured on U.S. money.

On its website, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco writes: “To avoid the appearance of a monarchy, it was long-standing tradition to only feature portraits of deceased individuals on currency and coin. That tradition became law with an 1866 Act of Congress.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained the 1866 law this way: “Our Founding Fathers believed it was unpatriotic for living people’s likenesses to be placed on money in circulation.” The publication noted that President George Washington declined having his portrait on the silver dollar while he was alive, although he is now featured on both the $1 bill and the quarter. 

The 1866 law has been ignored at times in the past, most notably when then-President Calvin Coolidge appeared on a commemorative half dollar minted for the 150th anniversary of American independence.

But Gosar isn’t eyeing a commemorative coin. He’s looking to put Trump’s face on what would be the largest bill in print. 

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) has a long history of defending former President Donald Trump and mingling with white nationalists. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The U.S. government stopped printing larger denomination bills, including $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 notes, in 1945 and discontinued them altogether in 1969. The most recently minted $500 bills feature a portrait of the 25th U.S. president, William McKinley.

In a press release announcing his legislation, Gosar bemoaned so-called “Bidenflation” and argued $500 Trump bills would offer “several practical advantages.” 

“First, larger-value currency will empower Americans with the freedom of more tangible options to save and exchange goods and services,” Gosar said. “Additionally, the absence of large-denomination currency issued by the Treasury encourages Americans to rely on digital banking, which faces greater vulnerability to surveillance and censorship.”

Trump notes would likely be sought after by collectors, Gosar added. 

“Collectors often covet currency with unique designs and historical significance and bills featuring the very popular 45th President will attract considerable attention from collectors,” he said. 

Gosar’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, including questions about whether Congress can put living people on cash.

His bill is likely to go nowhere fast. Rather, it appears to be Gosar’s latest attempt to curry favor with a former president who he has fiercely defended at seemingly every turn. 

While Trump has yet to weigh in on the bill, Gosar’s home state newspaper had plenty to say about it. In a piece on Thursday, Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini wrote that the bill “provides irrefutable proof that for some individuals — Gosar among them — Donald Trump is a cult.”