New York judge says Trump ‘authorized and condoned’ his security guards to rough up protesters

Trump security punch protester

A New York State judge has shot down an effort by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit against his private security guards for allegedly roughing up demonstrators who were protesting outside of Trump Tower months after he announced his presidential run.

The New York Law Journal reports that Bronx Supreme Court Justice Fernando Tapia on Tuesday declined to dismiss the suit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up by the president’s security team back in 2015.

Specifically, Tapia said that Trump himself “authorized and condoned” his security guards to rough up the protesters, and he specifically cited the president’s statement that “maybe they deserved to be roughed up” on the grounds that “it was absolutely disgusting” what the protesters were doing.

The lawsuit was filed by five Latino activists who claim that they were roughed up by longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and two other men who were employed as part of the then-candidate’s security personnel.

[Raw Story]

Trump doctor Harold Bornstein says bodyguard, lawyer ‘raided’ his office, took medical files

In February 2017, a top White House aide who was Trump’s longtime personal bodyguard, along with the top lawyer at the Trump Organization and a third man showed up at the office of Trump’s New York doctor without notice and took all the president’s medical records.

The incident, which Dr. Harold Bornstein described as a “raid,” took place two days after Bornstein told a newspaper that he had prescribed a hair growth medicine for the president for years.

In an exclusive interview in his Park Avenue office, Bornstein told NBC News that he felt “raped, frightened and sad” when Keith Schiller and another “large man” came to his office to collect the president’s records on the morning of Feb. 3, 2017. At the time, Schiller, who had long worked as Trump’s bodyguard, was serving as director of Oval Office operations at the White House.

“They must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos,” said Bornstein, who described the incident as frightening.

A framed 8-by-10 photo of Bornstein and Trump that had been hanging on the wall in the waiting room now lies flat under a stack of papers on the top shelf of Bornstein’s bookshelf. Bornstein said the men asked him to take it off the wall.

Bornstein said he was not given a form authorizing the release of the records and signed by the president known as a HIPAA release — which is a violation of patient privacy law. A person familiar with the matter said there was a letter to Bornstein from then-White House doctor Ronny Jackson, but didn’t know if there was a release form attached.

“If Ronny Jackson was the treating doctor, and he was asking for his patient’s paperwork, a doctor is obligated to give it to him to ensure continuity of care,” said NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres, “but it has to be given in a secure fashion. Nobody who doesn’t have HIPAA clearance can see the patient records.”

NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said that patients generally own their medical information, but the original record is the property of the provider. “New York state law requires that a doctor maintain records for at least six years, so a doctor who hands over his original records runs the risk of violating New York state law,” said Cevallos.

Bornstein said the original and only copy of Trump’s charts, including lab reports under Trump’s name as well as under the pseudonyms his office used for Trump, were taken.

Another man, Trump Organization chief legal officer Alan Garten, joined Schiller’s team at Bornstein’s office, and Bornstein’s wife, Melissa, photocopied his business card. Garten declined to comment for this article.

Schiller, who left the White House in September 2017, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked about the incident by Hallie Jackson of NBC News on Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that taking possession of medical records was “standard operating procedure for a new president” and that it was not accurate to characterize what happened as a “raid.”

“Those records were being transferred over to the White House Medical Unit, as requested,” said Sanders.

Bornstein said that Trump cut ties with him after he told The New York Times that Trump takes Propecia, a drug for enlarged prostates that is often prescribed to stimulate hair growth in men. Bornstein told the Times that he prescribed Trump drugs for rosacea and high cholesterol as well.

The story also quotes Bornstein recalling that he had told Rhona Graff, Trump’s longtime assistant, “You know, I should be the White House physician.”

After the article ran on Feb. 1, 2017, Bornstein said Graff called him and said, “So you wanted to be the White House doctor? Forget it, you’re out.’ ”

Two days after the article ran, the men came to his office.

“I couldn’t believe anybody was making a big deal out of a drug to grow his hair that seemed to be so important. And it certainly was not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take Propecia to grow their hair. What’s the matter with that?”

Bornstein said he is speaking out now after seeing reports that Jackson, who has allegedly been called “the candy man” for loosely prescribing pain medications as White House doctor, will not return to his post after being considered to run the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This is like a celebration for me,” he said.

Jackson has denied improperly prescribing drugs.

Bornstein, 70, had been Trump’s personal doctor for more than 35 years.

During Trump’s presidential campaign, Bornstein wrote a letter declaring “unequivocally” that Trump would be the healthiest president in history. He called Trump’s health “astonishingly excellent.” The Trump campaign released the letter in December 2015.

Bornstein told NBC News in 2016 that he wrote the note in just five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his office.

Asked how he could justify saying Trump would be the healthiest president ever, Bornstein said, “I like that sentence, to be quite honest with you, and all the rest of them are either sick or dead.”

[NBC News]

Trump’s Private Security’s Use of Force Questioned

Trump security punch protester

Donald Trump’s private security lacked basic procedures and policies — including for the use of force — giving guards free rein during the campaign and transition to physically confront protesters and journalists they found objectionable, according to hours of deposition transcripts in a civil lawsuit that were reviewed by POLITICO.

For instance, during a September 2015 protest outside Trump Tower, Trump security guard Gary Uher forcibly escorted a protester away from the building’s entrance because he believed — incorrectly — that the adjacent sidewalk was Trump’s property, according to his testimony. Uher said he was authorized by the campaign to use force to move the protesters, but in a separate deposition, Trump’s security director at the time, Keith Schiller, said Uher had no such authorization.

Yet Schiller, who joined Trump’s White House staff last month, explained that he decided to place his hands on Univision’s Jorge Ramos while ejecting him from an August 2015 press conference because Ramos was “not listening or not being cordial or respectful to Mr. Trump or his colleagues, because he spoke out of term (sic).”

And Trump Organization executive Matthew Calamari, to whom Trump testified in an affidavit he had delegated “full responsibility and authority for the hiring and supervision of all security personnel,” said the last time Trump’s operation produced a “security procedures” document was during the 1990s, and that it’s long been out of use. “I haven’t seen it in many, many years,” testified Calamari in his deposition. While he claimed that all of Trump’s security personnel are licensed as security guards by New York state, Uher, Schiller and another security official said in their depositions that they did not have such licenses when they responded to the September 2015 protest.

The sworn testimony was ordered in connection with a lawsuit brought in New York State court against the guards, the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign and Trump himself by participants in the September 2015 Trump Tower protest. The protesters claim they were “violently attacked” by Trump’s security “for the express purpose of interfering with their political speech.”

Schiller, Uher and the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment. In their depositions, the security officers claim that they were just trying to keep the sidewalk clear for pedestrians and got physical only when protesters refused to clear the sidewalk and one accosted Schiller.

Yet the depositions paint a picture of a security operation guided more by instinct than procedures, where employees were not subject to background checks or regular evaluations, and where lines were blurred between Trump’s campaign, his corporation and even the United States Secret Service.

All of the officials deposed in the lawsuit continued working for Trump in some capacity after his Election Day victory, and at least two remained involved in some facet of Trump’s operations after he was sworn in as president last month.

Schiller, a retired New York City detective, began work last month as Trump’s director of Oval Office operations while Calamari continued as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, a position from which he oversees the company’s security apparatus. Uher suggested in his deposition that he too had gone to work for the company after the election.

Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications, stressed that Schiller’s new White House job “does not entail any security-related functions” and that he “is in compliance with all rules applied to White House staff.” She referred questions about security personnel and functions to the Trump Organization and the Secret Service.

The Trump Organization did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A Secret Service spokesperson stressed that the agency has sole authority to protect the president and his family but explained that it would coordinate with Schiller and other members of the president’s staff as well as “any private security organization responsible for the protection of facilities where a USSS protectee will be present.”

The depositions and the underlying lawsuit — one of at least three winding through federal and state courts brought by protesters against Trump, his campaign or its security — are likely to fuel scrutiny of Trump’s private security. It has drawn repeated complaints for excessive force and aggression, racial profiling and trampling free speech. And its relationship with the Secret Service has raised concerns among agency employees, outside law enforcement experts and members of Congress overseeing the agency, who worry that the private security may have complicated the service’s ability to protect Trump during the campaign and transition.

“I’m surprised that apparently these people have been around the Secret Service all along,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) during an interview on Washington’s NewsChannel 8 in December. “Who’s in charge if you have your long-term guards and the Secret Service?” she asked in response to a POLITICO article revealing that Trump had retained private security even after winning the presidency.

Norton, who sits on the House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service, did not respond to a request for comment from POLITICO. But she told NewsChannel 8 that she intended to push the committee to investigate “how were they used during the campaign? Who was in charge then, because I understand that they had a role in the campaign that I did not know of, and I don’t believe the Congress knew of.”

POLITICO, in conjunction with the nonpartisan transparency organization the James Madison Project, on Monday sued the Secret Service under the Freedom of Information Act for public records detailing the agency’s relationship with Trump’s private security.

While the Secret Service assumed responsibility for Trump’s personal security in November 2015, some members of Trump’s private security detail continued traveling with him, while others continued providing security at rallies in conjunction with the service — highly unusual moves for a presidential campaign.

Schiller, in particular, appeared to continue acting as if he had a security function throughout the campaign. That raised concerns among Secret Service agents, who said Schiller bristled at their efforts to take charge and got in their way at times, according to a law enforcement official who communicates regularly with the agency’s agents.

The agency’s director, Joseph Clancy, suggested in a CNN interview last month that Trump’s private security stepped back when Secret Service assumed protection in November 2015. The private security wouldn’t have intervened if there were a threat to Trump, asserted Clancy, casting Schiller as a “conduit for information” between Trump and his agents.

Clancy told CNN that there was “no friction at all” between his agents and Trump’s private security. He declared that his agents “only work with the law enforcement partners” and “don’t interact with” Trump’s private security.

But some of Clancy’s own agents took umbrage at Clancy’s pushback, which they interpreted as an effort to minimize serious concerns about Trump’s private security in an effort to make nice with the new boss, according to the law enforcement official. Clancy’s comments on CNN “were in line with his efforts to try to keep issues out of the media and move on from an issue rather than address the matter,” said the law enforcement official.

In fact, Clancy’s assessment appears to be at odds with the depositions, as well as legal filings in other cases and POLITICO’s own reporting.

Eddie Deck, a former Marine and FBI agent, testified in the Trump Tower protest case that, after the Secret Service granted protection to Trump, Deck’s job changed from providing such protection to doing security at Trump events, including being a “liaison with the police and the Secret Service.”

In his deposition, Deck explained that his contract calls for him “to do the coordination with the police department or Secret Service for the safety and security at the Trump rallies.”

And Deck, whose policing of Trump rallies drew repeated complaints from protesters for using excessive force and ejecting people solely because they didn’t look like Trump supporters, suggested that he and the Secret Service were involved in a decision to cancel a March 2016 rally in Chicago amid raucous protests — both outside and inside the arena.

“It created such an unsafe environment, that Mr. Trump did not come due to my advisement and Secret Service’s advisement, because it would’ve been very, very, very unsafe,” said Deck.

Deck did not respond to a request for comment, while a Secret Service spokesperson said Deck was not involved in the agency’s security planning or decision-making. “During the campaign, Mr. Deck was considered a staff member,” the spokesperson said, adding “staff members serve different functions of which being a liaison with USSS or local police might be one.”

And although Clancy told CNN that the Secret Service wouldn’t get involved in ejecting protesters who weren’t a threat to Trump because “We want to make sure everyone has their First Amendment rights,” Trump’s own lawyers suggested he saw things otherwise.

In a filing in a case brought by three protesters roughed up and ejected by Trump supporters from a March 2016 rally in Louisville, Kentucky, after Trump barked “get ’em out!,” Trump’s lawyers wrote that “Mr. Trump was calling on the Secret Service, event security, and local law enforcement to enforce the law and remove hecklers who were ruining the event for others.”

The Secret Service spokesperson said that the agency “will not impede the First Amendment right of protesters and will only engage if a verbal or active threat is directed toward a protectee.” Decisions about whether to remove disruptive protesters are made “at the discretion of the host committee,” the spokesperson said, adding that agents “would not be involved in the removal of those individuals.”

The fact that the Kentucky rally was held in a private venue using Trump campaign funds meant that once the protesters voiced anti-Trump sentiments, they became trespassers, according to the filing by Trump’s lawyers. And that “gave Mr. Trump and the Campaign the legal right to remove the protesters by force,” Trump’s lawyers argued. Nonetheless, video shows the lead plaintiff, a young African-American woman named Kashiya Nwanguma, was mostly forced from the arena by Trump supporters who shoved and taunted her as she made her way toward the exit.

Nwanguma alleges in the suit that she was subject to racial epithets and other slurs during the ordeal. And her lawyer Daniel J. Canon argued in an interview that what happened to Nwanguma represented a failure of Trump’s private security and local police.

“Part of the problem here is that they weren’t removed by private security,” said Canon. “Instead, they just let this angry mob of white people attack this black person who was protesting,” said Canon, who brought the suit against Trump, his campaign and three attendees, one of whom is a well-known white nationalist.

“The idea that a presidential candidate goes on the road and makes campaign stops and asks or commands the crowd to turn on peaceful protesters who are in the audience is beyond the pale, especially when you know that you’ve got a powder keg on the ground of white supremacists and other violent people and groups,” he said.

The protesters who clashed with Trump’s security outside Trump Tower in September 2015 also contend that the security is a reflection of Trump himself.

The protest was motivated by Trump’s incendiary claims about Mexicans, and it included a pair of protesters dressed in paper facsimiles of Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods, while others carried signs declaring Trump a racist.

After mistakenly informing the protesters that the Trump Tower sidewalk was private property, Uher escorted one of the protesters in a KKK costume away from the building, inside of which Trump was holding a press conference to announce that he’d signed a loyalty pledge to support the Republican Party’s presidential nominee — even if it wasn’t him.

Uher argued in his deposition that the situation required him to put his hands on the protester. “Yeah, I’m sure I touched him… just to advise him that we had to keep moving,” said Uher, explaining “my hands weren’t on him the whole time. As I invaded his space, he was — he moved.”

Schiller demanded that protesters remove an 8-foot-long sign mimicking Trump’s campaign logo, but instead reading “Make America Racist Again.” When they didn’t comply, he aggressively grabbed and ripped the sign, turned and began walking with it toward Trump Tower.

One of the protesters, Efrain Galicia, pursued Schiller, grabbing him from behind in “an attempt to retrieve the [sign] before Schiller could abscond with it into Trump Tower,” according to a legal complaint filed by lawyers for Galicia and others who protested with him. Video shows Schiller quickly pivoting and striking Galicia in the head. Schiller explained in an affidavit that he did so “instinctively” and “based on … years of training” because he felt Galicia’s “hand on my firearm, which was strapped on the right side of my rib cage in a body holster.”

Though Schiller admitted in his deposition that his gun was concealed beneath a loose-fitting suit jacket, he contended that Galicia “could have seen the bulge” from the weapon through his jacket.

Deck quickly grabbed Galicia around the neck, holding him back, because, Deck argued in his deposition, Galicia “had already jumped and assaulted Mr. Schiller,” though Deck also conceded it was unclear whether Galicia knew Schiller was armed.

Deck, Schiller and Uher all explained in their depositions that they were trying to clear the sidewalk because the protesters were impeding foot traffic, though the protesters’ lawyers argue there was ample room for passersby to walk past.

“It was mayhem out there,” Deck said.

But Galicia suggested to reporters at the scene that Trump’s private security personnel were targeting protesters and “just acting like their boss.”

While the judge hearing the case ruled that Galicia’s lawyers could not depose Trump before the case went to trial, one of the lawyers, Roger Bernstein, suggested that the tactics of Trump’s security nonetheless reflected on Trump and his operation.

“Given Donald Trump’s policies and practices, we expect to prove that Donald Trump and his companies explicitly or implicitly authorized the assaults by their unlicensed security personnel,” Bernstein said.

Schiller, Deck and Uher all said in their depositions that they were led to believe that the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization would pay their legal fees if they lost the case, and all three are represented by lawyers for the Trump Organization. The three expressed some uncertainty at times during the depositions about whether they were working for the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the campaign through the end of November had spent more than $1 million on private security, including $181,000 paid to Schiller, and $50,000 to a company called KS Global Group LLC. While the company, which was registered in Delaware in October 2015 without revealing the names of its principals, bears Schiller’s initials, neither he nor Trump’s representatives would comment on who is behind it. The biggest recipient of Trump security cash is a company called XMark LLC, which is owned by Deck and which lists Uher as vice president.

Deck, Uher and Schiller continued providing security after the election for rallies funded by Trump’s campaign as part of his post-election “Thank You Tour,” during which protesters were removed — sometimes roughly — at many stops. The funding and security for those rallies will be covered by campaign finance reports that were due to be filed with the FEC before midnight Tuesday.

When Bernstein during the depositions asked why XMark’s logo included St. George’s Cross, which is often associated with military causes, Deck appears to have become angry. Explaining the cross was “to honor the fallen dead of the soldiers and the military people that I worked with for three years in Joint Special Operations Command,” Deck accused the lawyer of “desecrating the memory of those heroes that I’ve worked with” and said “they gave their lives so you can question me about that.”

(h/t Politico)

Trump Will Be First President With a Personal Security Force Outside the Secret Service

President-elect Donald Trump has continued employing a private security and intelligence team at his victory rallies, and he is expected to keep at least some members of the team after he becomes president, according to people familiar with the plans.

The arrangement represents a major break from tradition. All modern presidents and presidents-elect have entrusted their personal security entirely to the Secret Service, and their event security mostly to local law enforcement, according to presidential security experts and Secret Service sources.

But Trump — who puts a premium on loyalty and has demonstrated great interest in having forceful security at his events — has opted to maintain an aggressive and unprecedented private security force, led by Keith Schiller, a retired New York City cop and Navy veteran who started working for Trump in 1999 as a part-time bodyguard, eventually rising to become his head of security.

Security officials warn that employing private security personnel heightens risks for the president-elect and his team, as well as for protesters, dozens of whom have alleged racial profiling, undue force or aggression at the hands of Trump’s security, with at least 10 joining a trio of lawsuits now pending against Trump, his campaign or its security.

“It’s playing with fire,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who worked on President Barack Obama’s protective detail during his 2012 reelection campaign. Having a private security team working 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,” he said, adding, “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.”

Wackrow, who left the Secret Service in 2014 and is now executive director of a security company called RANE (short for Risk Assistance Network + Exchange), said if he were the lead agent at a Trump rally, “I wouldn’t allow it.” But he suggested it’s a tricky situation for the Secret Service. “What are they going to do, pick a fight with the president-elect and his advisers? That’s not a way to start a romance.”

Several past presidential nominees have used private security or, in the case of governors running for president, state police details. But the experts could not think of another example of a president-elect continuing with any private security after Election Day, when Secret Service protection expands dramatically for the winner. In fact, most candidates drop any outside security the moment they’re granted Secret Service protection.

Trump’s spending on private security, on the other hand, actually increased after he was granted Secret Service protection in November 2015.

Through the end of last month, Trump’s campaign had spent more than $1 million on private security contracting, compared with $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.

Whereas Clinton’s security spending — like that of most presidential campaigns — went mostly to protection for her offices and payments to local law enforcement or security companies for ad hoc event security, Trump’s campaign took it to a whole different level. It built a robust private security force that traveled the country supplementing the protective personal security supplied by the Secret Service, and working to identify and remove possible protesters — or just people Trump and his allies had a bad feeling about — from his events.

The private security team has been present at each of the seven rallies on Trump’s post-election “Thank You Tour” and has removed protesters — sometimes roughly — at many stops.

That included about a dozen protesters during a rally here on Dec. 9 in a minor-league arena called the Deltaplex, where Trump mostly shrugged off the interruptions until he became impatient with a particularly disruptive protester. “Get ‘em out!” the president-elect instructed his private security. That appeared to spur Trump’s security director, Schiller, to venture away from the stage, where he arrived with Trump, and wade deep into the crowd to assist other private security personnel with the removal.

Before the end of the rally, Schiller returned to his place by Trump’s side, along with a Secret Service contingent of which he is often misidentified as a member. (Despite being — at 58 years old — significantly older than most agents, Schiller looks the part, invariably sporting a uniform of dark suits and white shirts, along with a Secret Service-issued perimeter pin, and maintaining an athletic 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound frame.) Together, the entourage accompanied Trump back to the airport, onto his plane and back to New York. It was the same routine as Schiller and Trump repeated countless times during the campaign, and it likely will be repeated countless more times over the coming years, since Schiller is expected to follow Trump into the White House, according to multiple sources on the transition team.

In interviews with about a dozen people who interact with Trump, they said even as the president-elect’s Secret Service detail has expanded significantly since the election, he remains most comfortable with Schiller and his team. A native of New Paltz, New York, and father of two, Schiller has been director of security for The Trump Organization since 2004.

The Trump associates say Schiller is expected to become a personal White House aide who would serve as the incoming president’s full-time physical gatekeeper, though he might not be able to offer his boss the wide range of services he has in the past. For instance, federal law prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers from bringing firearms into federal buildings, and there are even stricter rules about who can carry on the White House grounds or around Secret Service protectees. Schiller had been armed at times early in the campaign, but it’s unclear whether he continued carrying a firearm after Trump was granted Secret Service protection.

Even after the arrival of Trump’s Secret Service detail, which typically marks the end of any pre-existing security arrangement, Schiller never strayed from his boss’ side.

The associates say Schiller provides more than just security. Trump has been known to ask Schiller’s opinion on all manner of subjects. When people want to reach Trump, they often call Schiller’s cellphone and he decides who gets through to the boss.

Photos often show Schiller looming over Trump’s shoulder as he works crowds, standing sentry by the stage as Trump speaks, or ejecting protesters from rallies. He’s developed a small but avid fan base on Twitter, where Trump supporters cheer Schiller’s confrontations with protesters, pose for selfies with him at events and backstage, and praise him as a brave “American Eagle” who kept Trump “safe & sound.”

And Schiller, a registered Republican, showed signs of reveling in Trump’s campaign, creating his own Twitter account just before the first primaries to promote the campaign and chronicle his unique perspective from the trail. He occasionally channeled his boss’ attacks on rivals like Ted Cruz (“Wow Lyin Ted is becoming unhinged! So sad…,” he tweeted as Trump was clinching the GOP nomination over the Texas senator) and spread false claims about Democrats, including that 20 percent of Clinton’s campaign cash came from people who were responsible for the September 2001 terrorist attacks, that a grand jury had been convened to investigate her use of a private email server for State Department business and that Obama encouraged undocumented immigrants to vote illegally.

Yet Schiller mostly remains — as one former campaign aide put it — “the most important man no one has ever heard of.”

That influence comes from Schiller’s ability to essentially control access to Trump, acting as his liaison to everyone from staff and well-wishers to dignitaries — and even Secret Service agents.

“Keith is kind of a consigliere,” said a transition team official. “He knows all the players, all the properties. He has the confidence of Trump and of the family. To describe him as a body guy would be very, very beneath the role that he actually plays.”

A younger aide — possibly the campaign’s trip director John McEntee — likely will be tapped for the traditional body man valet-like role, while Schiller would fill a new type of a hybrid staff-security role, the official explained. “Keith knows Trump inside and out. He knows when he turns right and when it turns left,” the official said.

Yet Schiller’s tight relationship with — and protectiveness of — his boss has already complicated the Secret Service’s rigid protection protocols, say allies of the agency and independent security experts.

In March, when a 32-year-old man jumped a barricade and rushed toward the stage as Trump was speaking at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Secret Service agents immediately descended on Trump from opposite sides of the dais, encircling him in a human shield as a handful of other agents tackled the man before he could leap onto the stage. About a second after the first two agents reached Trump, Schiller leapt onto the stage and moved to position himself between the scrum and his boss.

The response appeared tightly choreographed to the untrained eye — a phalanx of men in dark suits and close-cropped hair swarming to protect their charge.

But in law enforcement circles, Schiller’s reaction was panned as too slow and was the subject of disapproving conversation among agents, according to a law enforcement source briefed on the conversations. The source said one agent described Schiller as the “JV trying to keep up in a varsity game.”

Specifically, the source said that Schiller came from a position on the dais that the agents would have used to evacuate Trump if that were to have been necessary. “If that happened, they would have run right into Keith. He was about three seconds too late,” the source said.

Joe Funk, a former Secret Service agent who worked several presidential campaigns, said agents throughout their careers are “trained nonstop to react to different situations based on your position and distance from the protectee in what they call AOP, or assaults on the principal.” That includes intensive drilling as a detail before being deployed to protect a presidential candidate or president “to familiarize yourself with the people who you are going to be working with.”

Stressing that he wasn’t assessing the response to the Dayton incident, Funk said “without any slight to Keith or to any of the guys on his team, they just haven’t had the opportunity to go through the Secret Service training that would allow them to respond to a situation like a Secret Service agent would.”

Since retiring from the Secret Service in 2005, Funk has provided private security for presidential candidates, including Obama in the early stages of the 2008 campaign and Mitt Romney in 2012. In both those cases, he said that when the Secret Service took over, he almost immediately stepped aside. “My assignment was over. That was it.”

So Funk said that he was “very surprised,” while providing security for Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign, to witness firsthand Trump’s “composite detail” including the Service and private security at multicandidate events during the primary. “I was under the impression that at some point this would be weeded out,” or that the private security would revert to more of a traditional staff role, said Funk, who is senior vice president at a private security firm called TorchStone Global. As for why that appears not to have occurred, Funk said “there may be a very good reason for it, but as a layperson on the outside looking in, I’m just kind of scratching my head. In my experience, this is unprecedented.”

Agents and their associates told POLITICO that Schiller and his team initially bristled at the Secret Service’s move to take the lead, and that the continued presence of the private security brigade at events has caused tension and in some cases gotten in the way of the Secret Service’s protocols.

During the campaign, Schiller and his team could be seen at rallies appearing to direct Secret Service agents, local police and employees of security companies hired for specific events.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to respond to a series of questions about the private security officials, who is paying them, their relationship with the Secret Service, whether they’re armed and what their roles will be after inauguration. Instead, she said in a statement, “Trump rallies are incredibly safe events and are executed with support from USSS, local law enforcement and private security to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all guests in attendance. For further details please reach out to the USSS.”

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor issued a statement saying, “The Secret Service does not provide information regarding our protective operations,” and referring to a section of the U.S. Code that outlines the agency’s obligations to protect the president-elect. As for the agency’s relationship with Trump’s security personnel and whether the Service has asked Trump to dial back his security or whether the security carry firearms, Mainor responded only: “The individuals you are referring to are staff personnel.”

Schiller did not respond to requests for comment.

In a little-noticed video interview recorded in Trump Tower less than two months after then-candidate Trump was granted Secret Service protection, Schiller said his team had “a great working relationship” with the Secret Service. “They bring their own set of assets, which is right now, we can use everything we can get, as far as the way the world is right now, and the campaign in itself. It’s inherently a risky business every day,” Schiller said in the interview, which was posted in January of this year.

But he also noted that he had received “some dignitary protection training through the Secret Service” when he was on the New York City police force, and he touted the capacity of the private security team he oversees. “We have the best assets money can buy, I can assure you of that, as far as protecting him, his family and his property,” Schiller told the interviewer, Rich Siegel, one of his childhood buddies from New Paltz.

Schiller explained that he has “more than a dozen people” working for him. While he said that “I’m no stranger to putting my hands on people,” thanks to his days in the New York City Police Department’s narcotics units, he added, “Things are different right now. I hire big guys who do all the fighting.”

The identities and numbers of the employees who constitute Trump’s private security operation — as well as other details — are not entirely clear. That’s partly because at least some of the costs — including Schiller’s salary at one point in the campaign — appeared to be split between The Trump Organization corporate structure and Trump’s presidential campaign, and also because the campaign paid many of its security officials, including several who continued working for Trump after the election, through opaque corporate structures.

Schiller himself was paid $181,000 for campaign work from July 2015 through mid-November, according to FEC filings, with some of it coming in the form of in-kind payments, likely indicating money paid to Schiller by The Trump Organization, and possibly reimbursed by Trump personally.

The campaign also paid $50,000 for “security services” during the second half of the year to a company called KS Global Group LLC. While the company, which was registered anonymously in Delaware in October 2015, bears Schiller’s initials, neither he nor the Trump transition team would comment on who is behind it.

Another company, Black Tie Protection Services, which a Trump campaign operative said is linked to Schiller’s team, was paid more than $106,000 in the final four months of the campaign.

And the campaign paid $28,000 for security services to a company called ASIT Consulting, which is owned by a 62-year-old former FBI agent named Don Albracht, who has been known to film and occasionally taunt protesters.

But by far the biggest recipient of Trump security cash is a company called XMark LLC, which boasts on its website that its employees have expertise in surveillance, “close quarter battle” and “tactical shooting skills” and that the firm “provided all PPD [personal protection detail] for Mr. Trump’s campaign travel to include all advance work and coordination with local law enforcement agencies, in support, throughout the country, until being relieved by the United States Secret Service in mid-November of 2015.”

Yet the company continued receiving payments from Trump’s campaign after that point, with $89,000 coming after Election Day. Its officials — including president Eddie Deck and vice president Gary Uher, both of whom are retired FBI agents — were seen policing the crowds at Trump rallies throughout the campaign, as well as during the post-election “Thank You Tour.” The pair — combined with XMark and a retired New York City cop named Michael Sharkey, who also is associated with the company — have been paid nearly $579,000 and counting by the campaign.

Trump transition team sources say the thank you rallies are being funded by Trump’s campaign committee, but that Trump, as president, might headline rallies funded and organized by a still-in-the-works outside group that will be able to accept huge donations unbound by federal campaign limits.

While Trump’s Saturday rally in Mobile, Alabama, was the last one scheduled on the tour, he hinted to the crowd that he intends to resume the rallies as president. “This is the last time I’ll be speaking at a rally for maybe a while. You know, they’re saying as president he shouldn’t be doing rallies, but I think we should, right?” he said, prompting loud applause. “We’ve done everything else the opposite. Well, no, this is the way you get an honest word out, because you can’t give it to [he press] because they’re so dishonest.”

If Trump’s team continues funding the rallies using private money, it would have the right to “decide who can attend their events, including which opinions or speech they deem acceptable by attendees,” said Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

She co-wrote a post in March on the ACLU’s website bemoaning that the removal of protesters of color from this year’s presidential campaign rallies is “certainly not what we want our democracy to look like.”

Nonetheless, Rowland told POLITICO that as long as Trump’s campaign or an outside group “organizes and sets the rules for a private event, and a politician, including the president, is an invited guest, then the host can decide whether and when to revoke attendees’ invitations. That would make them trespassers and allow them to be legally removed.” If the rallies were funded or organized by the government, on the other hand, then only law enforcement could identify protesters for ejection and actually remove them, and only then for breaking the law, she said.

Trump’s private security team has taken full advantage of that latitude, and Deck, who appears to be the leader of the rally security unit, has served as the point of the spear.

Deck, a buff 62-year-old who at various times took to wearing street clothes to blend into rally crowds so he could sleuth out protesters, has drawn repeated complaints about excessive force and ejecting people solely because they don’t look like Trump supporters.

At an April rally in Harrington, Delaware, Deck was captured on video calling for assistance from Delaware state troopers to remove two young African-Americans separately. When one, Anwar Dyer, protested “I didn’t say anything,” Deck responded “I don’t care. You’re leaving. You’re leaving. And if you don’t leave, you’re gonna get hooked up, and I know you don’t want to get hooked up.”

A college student who attended a Trump rally in Tucson, Arizona, in March told POLITICO that Deck “grabbed my arm and angrily pulled me through the crowd,” adding: “I genuinely believe I was kicked out because I am transgender.”

At an August rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Deck removed an 18-year-old Indian-American Trump supporter named Jake Anantha, who Deck accused of having protested at past Trump rallies. Anantha, a registered Republican who was wearing a Trump shirt, later complained to The Charlotte Observer, “Why are all these white people allowed to attend and I’m not?”

Messages left for Albracht and at XMark email and phone numbers were not returned. And it was not clear whether they would continue working with Trump’s security team in any rallies he might do as president.

Henry Brousseau — who alleges that he was punched in the stomach by Trump supporters after shouting “Black Lives Matter” at a March rally in Charlotte — said Trump’s security “did not seem to be interested at all in public safety. They were there to keep the rally on message. They were being speech police.”

Brousseau, who was a high school senior at the time, and two fellow protesters were ejected. And now they’re suing Trump and his campaign, as well as the convention center for failing to provide adequate security, while also claiming that Trump’s calls to “get ’em out” were “calculated to incite violence against the plaintiffs.”

Brousseau said “it is a pattern of silencing his opponents” that is “unpresidential, undemocratic and un-American.”

Another lawsuit was filed three weeks before the election, in part by an African-American man who alleges he was punched, kicked and called racial slurs by Trump supporters at a November 2015 Trump rally in Birmingham, even after security arrived on the scene — all while Trump yelled “get him the hell out of here!” It calls on Trump’s campaign, the convention center and the city of Birmingham “to pay for damages, institute new procedures for security and issue a public apology to those who attended the rally in question and to the residents of Birmingham.”

A third lawsuit alleges that Schiller, Deck, Uher and two other Trump security officers assaulted a handful of protesters during a raucous protest outside the campaign’s Manhattan headquarters in September.

In an affidavit in the case, Schiller acknowledged that he struck one of the protesters in the head. But he says that was 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.”

The protesters’ lawyers deposed Schiller, Deck and Uher in the days leading up to the Grand Rapids rally.

The judge in June ruled that Trump would not have to provide a deposition in the case, despite the assertion by the protesters’ lawyers that “Trump has had a substantial role in bringing about violence on the part of his security guards.”

(h/t Politico)

Trump Attempts To Use Police Tragedy As a Photo Op

Bill Bratton. | AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

After calling off campaign events in the wake of the ambush killings of five Dallas police officers, Donald Trump reached out to NYPD officials, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday.

A rep from Donald Trump’s Manhattan organization asked the city’s top cop to let the candidate speak to a 3 p.m. roll call at the NYPD Midtown North Precinct. But Commissioner Bratton strongly rejected the idea, which a police source said came from Trump’s head of security Keith Schiller.

During a press conference at police headquarters, Bratton told reporters “there may have been a request made to attend a roll call” by Trump and that there was “an inquiry from Senator Clinton about setting up a call to be briefed on what’s going on here in New York.”

The commissioner said he would be “more than happy” to speak with either presumptive presidential nominee but stressed his interest is in “staying out of the politics of the moment.”

“If Mr. Trump wants to speak to me, I’d be happy to brief him on what we’re doing. [If] Senator Clinton wants to speak to me, I’d be very happy to brief her on what we’re doing,” Bratton said. “But we’re not in the business of providing photo-ops for candidates.”

Donald Trump’s campaign disputed Bratton’s assertion.

“Mr. Trump and the campaign did not reach out with a request to address a roll call,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email to POLITICO.

Asked whether Trump reached out to address the officers in any capacity, Hicks responded, “No.”

(h/t Politico, NY Daily News)


This incident devolved into he-said-she-said hearsay. You will have to consider each source. The commissioner will address the press again this afternoon, along with the mayor and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. So stay tuned for updates.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton previously questioned Donald Trump ability to match President Obama’s record of killing terrorists and was critical of Trump’s response to the Orlando shootings.

While Trump has a long record of not making truthful or accurate statements. Trump’s head of security Keith Schiller was involved in smacking a protester at the start of Trump’s campaign.

Trump Security Guard Hits Protester

Trump security punch protester

A top security guard for Donald Trump smacked a protester in the face after the man chased him for snatching a banner Thursday, video shows.

The guard grabbed the blue sign that said “Trump: Make America Racist Again” — a play on the billionaire’s campaign motto — outside a press conference on the Donald’s new pledge of loyalty to the Republican Party, NY1 Noticias video shows.

Demonstrator Efrain Galicia ran after Schiller and appeared to reach for the banner and grab the guard from behind. Within seconds, the guard turned around and whacked him in the face with an open hand as a scrum of reporters snapped photos.

Galicia stumbled as another guard tried to restrain him, appearing to briefly put him in a stranglehold. Galicia fought back, grabbing at the second guard’s arms before the two yelled at each other outside Trump Tower.

A source familiar with the Trump campaign identified the first guard as Keith Schiller, Trump’s director of security and longtime bodyguard.

After the 10-second tussle, Galicia told reporters the guards are “just acting like their boss.”

“This man thinks he can do whatever he wants in this country, and we’re going to stop him,” Galicia said in Spanish.

An attorney for Galicia said he is exploring all “legal remedies that may be available” as Schiller appeared to “attempt to suppress free speech and the growing public criticism of the Trump campaign.”

“The video in a sense speaks for itself,” Benjamin Dictor told the Daily News Friday. “The actions were just exceedingly aggressive especially given the fact that demonstrators were on a public sidewalk speaking out about issues of public concern.”

(h/t NY Daily News)



On 8/21/2018 a New York State judge has shot down an effort by President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit against his private security guards for allegedly roughing up demonstrators who were protesting outside of Trump Tower months after he announced his presidential run.

The New York Law Journal reports that Bronx Supreme Court Justice Fernando Tapia on Tuesday declined to dismiss the suit filed by protesters who claim they were roughed up by the president’s security team back in 2015.

Specifically, Tapia said that Trump himself “authorized and condoned” his security guards to rough up the protesters, and he specifically cited the president’s statement that “maybe they deserved to be roughed up” on the grounds that “it was absolutely disgusting” what the protesters were doing.

The lawsuit was filed by five Latino activists who claim that they were roughed up by longtime Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and two other men who were employed as part of the then-candidate’s security personnel.