- Michael Kranish The Washington Post
A company run by Keith Schiller, who was one of President Donald Trump's closest associates when he abruptly left his job as director of Oval Office operations last September, has received $75,000 from the Republican National Committee under a contract to assess security at possible 2020 GOP convention sites, according to records and a party official.
The payments, including $30,000 disclosed in a new filing this week, put Schiller back in the spotlight at a time when he may be of interest to investigators about his knowledge of a series of intimate actions involving Trump. Schiller served for more than a decade as Trump's bodyguard and security chief and then served the president in the Oval Office job, which gave him unusual access.
His company's work was confirmed by an RNC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose details that are not included in federal filings.
Schiller worked for Trump during a period that may be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators. Schiller accompanied Trump during a 2013 trip to Moscow, and he delivered a letter from Trump telling then-FBI director James Comey that he was being fired. Schiller has testified in private before a House committee about his knowledge of some Trump actions, but there is no public indication that Mueller has sought to interview him.
Schiller's attorney, Danny Onorato, declined to comment, and Schiller did not respond to a request for comment.
"The president trusts Keith Schiller implicitly," said Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide who has remained friends with Schiller. For example, in asking Schiller to deliver the letter firing Comey, the president "realized the gravity of what he was doing and turned to his closest aide and friend."
Most recently, Schiller, a former New York City police detective, has been cited in news accounts for his purported role as a liaison during Trump's alleged affairs.
Stephanie Clifford, a porn star known as Stormy Daniels, said in an interview with In Touch magazine released last month that she communicated with a Trump bodyguard named "Keith" in 2006 to arrange a consensual affair with Trump while he was married to Melania. Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, told The New York Times last week that he paid $130,000 from his personal funds to Clifford. Cohen did not return a call requesting comment.
Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate, has said she communicated with Schiller during an affair with Trump, according to the New Yorker. The magazine also said that the "Keith" referred to by Clifford was Schiller.
In November 2013, Schiller was in Moscow with Trump, who was in the city to attend the Miss Universe pageant, which was produced by a Trump company. Schiller said a Russian man whom he did not know asked if he would like five women to come to Trump's hotel room, according to his testimony in November 2016 before the House Intelligence Committee. Schiller told the man that "we're not interested" and later joked about the offer with Trump, according to people familiar with Schiller's testimony.
Trump's Moscow trip has generated intense interest because it was referenced in the "dossier" paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign, in which a former British spy wrote that his sources said prostitutes had visited Trump at his room at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton in 2013.
Sam Nunberg, who worked as Trump's political and public affairs adviser before he was fired in 2015, said that Schiller "was a loyal soldier to Mr. Trump. He would take a bullet for Mr. Trump, but he wasn't a yes man who would blindly do anything."
Schiller, who told the House committee that he sometimes traveled six days a week with Trump, transitioned to providing security for the campaign when it launched in 2015. During the campaign, Schiller gave a rare interview to a former high school classmate, Rich Siegel, who posted it on Facebook. In the hour-long interview, conducted at Trump Tower, a relaxed Schiller recounted how he had traveled on Trump's retrofitted 757 and seen the billionaire's lavish lifestyle at close-up range. He said Trump had been a good and generous boss.
Schiller said in the interview with Siegel during the campaign that "life has been good" and that he had three residences, including one in Trump Tower.
At one point, Schiller told associates traveling with him on the campaign plane in the fall of the 2016 presidential election that there was no need to worry about allegations being made by a number of women about the candidate, according to a person familiar with the conversations.
In joining the White House, Schiller was required to divulge his finances. He said on his financial disclosure report that in 2016 he earned $160,000 in salary and bonus from the Trump Organization, $70,000 from the Trump campaign and $64,0000 from his security consulting firm, KS Global Group LLC. He made $43,000 from his New York City police pension. He had four bank accounts with a total of between $66,003 and $166,001. The form does not require that residences be listed.
Working in the White House was not nearly as profitable. As Trump's director of Oval Office operations in 2017, his annual salary was $165,000. In September, Schiller announced he was quitting. Several associates said Schiller told them that he was leaving for financial reasons.
Schiller had easy access to Trump under the first chief of staff, Reince Priebus. A Trump associate said Schiller became disenchanted as his access to Trump was limited by Chief of Staff John Kelly. However, a Schiller friend said he and Kelly remained cordial.
Shortly after leaving the White House, Schiller returned to KS Global Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida. The company's RNC consulting contract has paid at least five installments of $15,000, according to Federal Election Commission records, including one in October, two in November and two in January.
The report says only that Schiller was being paid for security services, but the RNC official said that Schiller's company "has been retained to provide security consultation for the RNC 2020 convention site selection process, which is currently underway." The official said the funds came out of a pool of money for convention expenses. That account that can accept up to $101,700 per donor a year.