President-elect Donald Trump’s security team have a history of rough tactics and sources say some will continue to work with him when he becomes president.
The 70-year-old continues to use his private mercenaries at his victory rallies and as he prepares to enter the White House, according to Politico. All contemporary presidents and president-elects have always been given their own personal security detail by the Secret Service. Event security has always been handled by local law enforcement. Mr. Trump spent over $1 million compared to Hillary Clinton’s $360,000 during the course of the campaign and shows no sign of letting up.
Mr. Trump continues to maintain an aggressive private security force led by Keith Schiller. Schiller, a Navy veteran and former New York City cop, began working for the Manhattan billionaire in 1999 as an on-and off bodyguard. He eventually became his head of security and looks highly likely to have a continued role when Trump waltzes into the White House.
According to The Hill, Trump’s privately funded security and intelligence force is unparalleled with any of his political rivals. The team is saddled with the task of tracking and unearthing protesters as well as patrolling key campaign events. However, judging by the testimonies and lawsuits filed, their tactics helped inflame Trump’s divisive campaign rather than defuse them.
According to CNN, a handful of protesters were allegedly assaulted by five security officials working for Trump outside the Manhattan headquarters. Lawsuits have been filed with the protester’s lawyers asking for the president-elect’s camp to make available the contracts of its security team, as well as its guideline over the use of force. In addition, they are also asking for the personnel records of all security personnel.
The complaints lodged by the protesters include assault, battery, excessive force and violation of their federal and state constitutional rights. Many critics have questioned the competence of Trump’s men and how they have gone ahead to remove people from events based on their looks and appearance. Others have queried if the show of force by his security team actually has the power of the law backing it.
On one night, protesters had filled a lobby to force a cancellation of a Donald Trump town hall meeting. Within minutes, three members of Trump’s reconnaissance team entered the lobby and things spiraled out of control. The team was led by former FBI agent, Don Albracht.
The 61-year-year-old began thrusting his cell phone in the face of demonstrators as he filmed them. In a show of provocation, he allegedly ripped a sign from a protester’s hands even as he continued filming. A protester that tried to film Albracht was pulled away by one of the security personnel. Steve Amitay, executive director of the National Association of Security Companies admitted that the Trump team could have done better under the circumstances.
Josh Jenkins, a protester and auto mechanic revealed he was amazed at the audacity displayed by Trump’s protective circle, when protesters stormed the venue. According to him, the goal of the security detail was to escalate and not de-escalate the demonstration. Jenkins said the police department on the other hand, showed their high level of professionalism and accountability compared to Trump’s mercenary army. Jenkins said the police officers introduced themselves while Albracht and his acquaintances did not.
Trump having a security detail that’s only accountable to him and not Congressional oversight is dangerous: https://t.co/5PhY2ylgFv— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) December 19, 2016
To dismay of Secret Service, Trump seem bent on keeping his rough-handed private security force as president https://t.co/MxJYPut7uI— David Frum (@davidfrum) December 19, 2016
Trump's use of a private security force is something to watch closely-especially if it continues after inauguration. https://t.co/RyVb8BHLFc— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) December 20, 2016
Security experts warn that Trump employing private security detail with Secret Service operatives following their lead, increases his risks. Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent described it as “playing with fire.” Wackrow who was part of President Barack Obama’s security detail during his 2012 election campaign said both security personnel walking together was nothing short of a disaster in the making.
“Having a private security team working events with Secret Service increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk. You never want to comingle a police function with a private security function.”
Keith Schiller has been given the mandate by Trump to handle his security and that even means controlling the Secret Service agents assigned to him. Security experts have faulted the 70-year-old for putting his trust in a man who is clearly out of his league.
In March, when a 32-year-old beat the barricade in Ohio and rushed onstage towards Trump, Secret Service agents encircled Trump from all sides. A group of other agents tackled the man to the ground. A few seconds after the Secret Service men were onstage was when Schiller chose to join them.
His reaction was a tad bit slow. One agent described him as the “JV trying to keep up in a varsity game.” He added that if Trump was meant to be evacuated from the stage quickly, Schiller would have bumped into them as he tried to get on stage or impeded them from making a hasty exit.
Joe Funk, a former Secret Service agent said Schiller and his team had not gone through Secret Service training and it showed that they were way off what was required to protect the president of the United States.
“Without any slight to Keith or 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 should.”
However, these are the people that Mr. Trump has given the license to protect him. Schiller and his team are jealously territorial and have in times past fumed at the Secret Service’s move to take charge.
This is hardly surprising as Mr. Trump has always had a penchant to play with fire even with regards to his personal safety.
[Featured Image by John Locher/AP Images]