Donald Trump Is Still Employing a Private and Sometimes Violent Security Team

Stephen Miller, left, senior policy adviser, and Keith Schiller, chief of security for Trump appear on stage before his arrival, Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in New York. Photo via AP
Stephen Miller, left, senior policy adviser, and Keith Schiller, chief of security for Trump appear on stage before his arrival, Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in New York. Photo via AP

Before the election, crusty Jello mold Donald Trump employed an enormous group of aggressive private security officers, even after he was granted Secret Service protection. As president-elect, he is still employing an an enormous group of aggressive private security officers, headed by a guy who, in the span of one week, forcibly ejected Jorge Ramos from a press conference and then punched a Latino protester in the face.


Politico reports that Trump continuing to employ a private security team after being elected represents “a major break with tradition,” which is true, unless you’re talking about the traditions of authoritarian countries.

Most candidates stop paying private security teams after they’re elected, because Secret Service protection expands dramatically. Not Trump, who spent more on private security contracting this November, according to Politico:

Through the end of last month, Trump’s campaign had spent more than $1 million on private security contracting, compared to $360,000 spent by the campaign of his vanquished Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That’s despite the fact that every other aspect of her campaign operation dwarfed his. Overall, her campaign outspent his by nearly 75 percent overall.

In April, Politico called Trump’s security team a “privatized mercenary force,” noting that he was sued in September 2015 by a group of Latino protesters who led a demonstration outside Trump tower. The suit alleges that the private security team, led by retired NYPD detective Keith Schiller, forcibly took signs from them as they stood on the sidewalk. Schiller then hit a demonstrator named Efrain Galicia in the head when the man tried to wrestle the sign back.

Schiller has been Trump’s bodyguard for 16 years, with the New York Daily News cheerily describing him as “feisty.” That’s one word for it. He’s perhaps most famous for muscling Jorge Ramos out of a press conference in August 2015. He’s the guy in the striped tie in the video below, doing the muscling:

At the Daily Beast, Olivia Nuzzi noted back in September that actually about 11 private security teams were guarding Trump. It was a potential campaign finance violation, since some of those folks were on his payroll before and were now being paid with donation money. And it was, as Nuzzi’s sources told her, a special risk, particularly if the private security forces were armed. A former Secret Service agent named Jonathan Wackrow who’d served on President Obama’s detail warned that it created the potential for a situation in which a bunch of professionally hyped-up dudes were threatening each other with guns:

In an emergency, Wackrow said, having armed security personnel around in addition to the Secret Service could prove dangerous. “What you never want to get involved with is what you call a ‘blue on blue’ situation,” he said, “which is when you have officers and agents pointing guns at each other.”

Wackrow added, “In my entire time with the Secret Service, I never allowed private security to be involved.”


A transition team official told Politico that Schiller, the ex-NYPD detective, is a loyal member of the Trump team, “kind of a consigliere,” and expected to accompany Trump to the White House. Associated Press photos show that Schiller was with Trump on November 10, when he first went to the White House to meet with President Obama.

Trump Tower also continues to be protected by Secret Service, the NYPD, and Trump’s private security, a costly arrangement that’s expected to continue for all four years of his presidency. The NYPD is asking the federal government to reimburse the city $35 million in security costs that have been incurred so far.

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.


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Pictured: Trump and his private security team.