When Donald Trump set out on his
Nuremberg "Thank You" Rally tour, the Secret Service was not his only accompaniment. No, it turns out he doesn't really trust the Secret Service -- he's THAT paranoid -- and so he employs a private security team of ex-FBI agents and retired policemen, according to Politico.
They report that Trump "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."
That's bad, for a number of reasons, including accountability. But it's also very creepy when you factor in the ex-FBI agents on the team, and it isn't a new thing.
After Trump began receiving Secret Service protection in 2015, the campaign "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 report continues.
Keith Schiller is the security guru, and he has "the 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."
Schiller is connected to at least two of the firms the Trump campaign paid for private security. KS Global Group, LLC is widely assumed to be associated with Schiller because of the initials, though the company is anonymously registered in Delaware. ASIT Consulting, run by former FBI agent Don Allbracht, was also paid by the campaign and has been seen on video harassing and taunting protesters.
The largest recipient of Trump campaign cash is a company called XMark, LLC, which claims on its website to have provided private security to Trump until he began receiving Secret Service protection. However, Politico notes that the campaign continued to pay XMark throughout the campaign, with the last cash payment after the November election.
XMark is associated with a former NYPD cop by the name of Michael Sharkey. It received $579,000 in payments throughout the campaign.
As Trump prepares to take the oath of office, will he also continue to employ outside contractors for private security and intelligence gathering? The creepiest part of this story is the idea that he's paying private contractors to gather intelligence on private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights for peaceful protest.
In his final
Nuremberg "Thank You" rally in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday, Trump suggested that he might continue doing rallies after becoming President. According to Politico, such rallies might be funded by an outside group with no disclosure requirements, funding limits, and he would be permitted to use private security services such as these.
That outside group appears to be a Texas nonprofit organized by Trump's sons, which is established purely for the ability to exchange donations for access, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
A Center for Public Integrity review of Texas incorporation records found the Opening Day Foundation was created less than a week ago, on Dec. 14. Unlike political committees, such nonprofits aren’t required by law to reveal their donors, allowing sponsors to write seven-figure checks for access to the president while staying anonymous, if they choose.
The paperwork for the Opening Day Foundation listed four directors: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Dallas investor Gentry Beach and Tom Hicks Jr., the son of a Dallas billionaire.
Beach and Hicks are reportedly close friends with Donald Trump Jr., and both men helped raise millions of dollars for Trump’s campaign.
“The event is being put on by the Opening Day Foundation,” Kinzie confirmed, adding: “There are a number of different individuals who are part of the foundation.”
The Opening Day Foundation offers million-dollar donors access to a post-inaugural event in Washington, DC which includes “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team,” as well as tickets to other events and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer.”
And it certainly will require private security services, too?
As for the involvement of former FBI agents in his private security scheme, I would like to know if they are agents who were based in the New York office, what their ties to Director James Comey were and are, and how many of them have been embedded with the Trump campaign and for how long.