On Monday morning, Politico ran a story about President-elect Trump's use of private security. On Tuesday, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino put Politico on blast, calling the story “the worst kind of fake news.”
On Thursday morning, Jonathan Wackrow — the former Secret Service agent who was quoted in the original Politico piece — reached out to Independent Journal Review to clarify a few points.
“It’s playing with fire,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who worked on President Barack Obama’s protective detail during his 2012 reelection campaign. Having a private security team working events with Secret Service “increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk,” Wackrow said.
You never want to commingle a police function with a private security function,” he said, adding, “If you talk to the guys on the detail and the guys who are running the rallies, that’s been a little bit difficult because it’s so abnormal.”
Wackrow told Independent Journal Review that he was speaking specifically about functions where Secret Service details had been tasked to protect Donald Trump — as they have since the primaries — and where members of the private security teams had been both present and armed:
"I stand by my comment — it is playing with fire, and the issue is the liability posed by [private security] continuing to be armed when they are working events alongside Secret Service.
Secret Service takes the hit if private security has a mishap regarding a firearm — say there is a scuffle and there is an accidental discharge, or someone gets a hand on one of their firearms — because ultimately [the Secret Service] is responsible for the safety of everyone in attendance as well."
He added that, while many presidents have employed “body men,” the role Keith Schiller may fill for Trump appears to be more nebulous. Politico's Ken Vogel explained:
Schiller would fill a new type of a hybrid staff-security role, the [transition team] official explained. “Keith knows Trump inside and out. He knows when he turns right and when it turns [sic] left,” the official said.
The complication regarding Schiller, again according to Wackrow, is not whether he's allowed to continue to work closely with Trump throughout and even after the transition. Rather, it's whether or not Schiller remains armed and serves as more of a body guard than a “body man”:
"Mr. Schiller is the current head of corporate security for the Trump Organization and has stated that he carries a firearm in court filings.
Mr. Schiller acts as the 15 plus year head of security and trusted protector of President-elect Trump. Beyond the campaign, Mr. Schiller holds responsibility for security functions for the entirety of the Trump Organization in conjunction with the COO, Matthew Calamari."
Wackrow also pointed out that the private security presence during campaign rallies — and even during the president-elect's “Thank You Tour,” which he essentially called an “extension of the campaign” — is different from what lies just beyond the horizon:
“No matter what he is doing now with regard to security, the type of events will be changing on January 20th. The rallies he does now are private events. After January 20th, they will be state functions with a very different tone.”
Wackrow added that the real story would lie in whether or not the private security had been allowed to carry firearms while working alongside Secret Service — and whether or not that would be allowed to continue.