Like a plot point out of an action movie, Donald Trump is retaining the ragtag bunch of ex-police officers and FBI agents who formed his campaign security detail as president. They will serve as additional security to the Secret Service.
It’s a move pretty much without precedent in recent history. It’s raising alarms that the security team will prove thuggish, especially against protesters. They’ve already been criticized for roughing up protesters at Trump’s post-election “thank you” rallies.
The team is headed by Keith Schiller, a former New York police officer who was once taped tearing a sign out of a protester’s hands and then punching the protester. Five protesters are currently suing Schiller, Trump and the rest of the Expendables.
Schiller has been Trump’s head of security since 2004. He’s known for making fawning social media posts praising his boss and sneering at his rivals. He once called Obama a “criminal president” on Twitter.
Trump’s decision not only poses a potential existential threat to protesters, it also confuses the security protocol that’s been in place for decades. If Secret Service and the personal entourage step on each others’ toes, it could lead to potentially dangerous confusion.
According to Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent, the combination “increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk.”
The personal security guards are well paid. During his campaign, Trump spent over a million dollars of his campaign funds on the security detail.
The Secret Service is currently renting an entire floor of Trump Tower to protect the president-elect. They are paying a reported $1.5 million a year for the privilege. To be clear, Joe Biden pulled the same move but on a smaller scale.
Considering the fact that Trump’s presidency is the most hotly contested in decades, maybe increased security isn’t a terrible idea. But the maneuver lends an even richer Mafia flavor to an administration that’s already composed largely of close friends, family members and complete Washington outsiders.
Hopefully he gives them all cool costumes. And maybe he could designate each of them as serving a specific task, based on their individual powers. Perhaps they could fly some kind of jet, maybe an invisible one. And they can wander the country, keeping us safe from protest signs wherever they may rear their ugly heads.
This comes as just another bizarre footnote in the surreal saga that is the 2016 election.