President-elect Donald Trump has given his private security director, Keith Schiller, a job overseeing Oval Office operations.
Schiller, a former New York police detective who has been Trump’s personal bodyguard for the past 17 years, has been tapped to serve as deputy assistant to the president and his director of Oval Office operations, the Trump transition team announced in a statement Wednesday.
Schiller was never far from Trump’s side throughout his presidential campaign and made headlines in 2015 when he hit a protester outside Trump Tower. Schiller and four others on Trump’s security team are the subjects of an ongoing lawsuit in New York state court accusing them of assaulting protesters outside Trump’s office in September 2015, according to Reuters. The suit also names the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization and Trump himself as defendants.
Politico reports that Schiller admitted in an affidavit that he hit one of the protesters in the head but claimed he did so because he felt the protester “physically grab me from behind and also felt that person’s hand on my firearm, which was strapped on the right side of my rib cage in a body holster.”
“Based on my years of training, I instinctively reacted by turning around in one movement and striking the person with my open hand,” he said.
Trump’s move to bring his private security director with him to the White House is largely unprecedented. The president-elect faced scrutiny when Politico reported last month that he plans to continue using his private security force, led by Schiller, after he transitions to the White House. All modern presidents and presidents-elect have relied solely on the Secret Service for personal protection, and mainly on local law enforcement for event security, Politico reported, citing presidential security experts and Secret Service sources.
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Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who has served on President Barack Obama’s protective detail, told Politico last month that Trump’s security arrangement is “playing with fire.”
Having a private security team work events with Secret Service “increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk,” Wackrow said. “You never want to commingle a police function with a private security function. If you talk to the guys on the detail and the guys who are running the rallies, that’s been a little bit difficult because it’s so abnormal.”