According to Bloomberg News, President Donald J. Trump is taking hard the departure of longtime Trump employee Keith Schiller from the White House. One of Trump’s former bodyguards, Schiller has been with Trump for decades and is said to be one of the president’s closest confidants outside of his family members.
After working as Trump’s director of Oval Office operations, Schiller will leave the White House to return to the private security business, according to a report in Bloomberg, for a job that will pay far more than his $165,000 government salary.
Multiple people interviewed by Bloomberg allegedly described Schiller as an emotional anchor for the president in a White House often marked by turmoil.
As noted, Schiller has worked for Trump for nearly two decades; within the West Wing, he had served as the president’s protector, gate-keeper and wing man, according to people close to Schiller and Trump.
Most of the people who spoke with Bloomberg reporters requested anonymity to candidly discuss relationships between the president and his aides. “He’s a confidant and friend,” said Stuart Jolly, a former national field director for Trump’s presidential campaign. “Trump trusts Keith, and Keith trusts him. Trust is a really big deal at that level.”
Schiller has also acted as Trump’s hatchet-man. It was Schiller who told James Comey that the president had decided to fire him as FBI director. Two weeks ago, after Trump was angered by preparations for a rally in Phoenix, Schiller delivered the message to another longtime aide, George Gigicos, that Trump no longer wanted him to organize such events, three people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Schiller reportedly never planned to stay in the position for long because of its lower pay and longer hours, according to Bloomberg’s anonymous sources. But rumors are circulating that his exit may have been accelerated by the appointment in July of retired Marine general John Kelly as Trump’s chief of staff. “Since taking the job, Kelly has sought to tighten access to the Oval Office, control information flowing to the president and install a more formal regime within the White House,” according to the report.
“Schiller has told friends that working under Kelly is very different, and that he doesn’t like the job as much. He has said he believes that Kelly doesn’t like Trump personally and is serving as chief of staff predominantly out of a sense of duty to country, according to three people familiar with his views. That has been deeply demoralizing for Schiller, who is accustomed to Trump being surrounded by devoted employees,” according to Bloomberg.
The report notes that “Schiller lost his privilege to walk into the Oval Office at any time when Kelly took over. And he now views his job as somewhat redundant, people close to him said. The president has Secret Service to protect him, valets to fetch what he needs, aides to dial his phone — people to handle every facet of Oval Office operations.”
Bloomberg’s sources say that they fear “Schiller’s departure will leave the president and the West Wing off-balance, given the deep relationship the two men share. These people said that Schiller’s exit could put Trump on a collision course with Kelly, who does not understand as well how Trump likes to operate.”
According to Bloomberg, President Trump’s allies have used Schiller as a contact for Trump when they want to reach the president. And campaign staffers knew the best way to get Trump’s ear was to slip a note to Schiller — especially if they wanted to get around having to deal with Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Reportedly, Lewandowski and Schiller didn’t always get along. But the slipping of notes, and the messages to Trump end with Schiller’s departure.
Schiller served in the Navy and as a New York City police officer before becoming a part-time body guard for Trump in 1999. He was named head of security for the Trump Organization in 2004. He knows most employees at the company and shares his opinion of all staffers, inside and outside the White House, with the president.
Bloomberg’s report states that Kelly’s moves to streamline and professionalize the Oval Office are sowing discontent among Trump friends and allies outside the White House. “The new chief of staff has imposed new protocols for getting face time or ideas in front of the president — cutting off a cadre of trusted regulars whose advice and conversation Trump relished,” it says.
“It was like a fraternity house the first six months and now it’s a military compound — it’s a fort,” one former aide told Bloomberg.
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