Trump Cites “Anti-Police Agitators,” in Boston, Then Thanks Crowds For Protesting “Hate”

President Trump decried “anti-police agitators” in Boston Saturday, after thousands of demonstrators with anti-Nazi and anti-racism signs and chants drowned out a small group of white nationalists holding a “free speech” rally.

The president, taking to Twitter to praise police as “looking tough and smart,” thanked them and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for their handling of the event.

Police did appear to scuffle with a large crowd of counter-protesters Saturday, but the president’s response to the event that drew tens of thousands of largely peaceful counter-protesters is sure to spark criticism. Mr. Trump is already under fire for saying there were “very fine people” among the white nationalist protesters in last week’s deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and for claiming “many sides” were to blame for the violence.

The president also said protest is sometimes necessary to “heal” the nation.

But Mr. Trump’s Twitter account later thanked people for protesting “bigotry and hate.”

The group that organized the “free speech” rally had until recently intended to have speakers with ties to white nationalism. Boston police did experience some confrontation against them, the Boston Police Department’s Twitter account seems to indicate. The police commissioner said 27 people were arrested throughout the day.

[CBS News]

Trump – Once Again – Fails to Condemn White Supremacists

President Donald Trump, a man known for his bluntness, was anything but on Saturday, failing to name the white supremacists or alt-right groups at the center of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Instead, the man whose vicious attacks against Hillary Clinton, John McCain, federal judges, fellow Republican leaders and journalists helped define him both in and out of the White House simply blamed “many sides.”

Trump stepped to the podium at his New Jersey golf resort and read a statement on the clashes, pinning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama,” he said. “It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

Fellow Republicans slammed Trump’s lack of directness and attempt to inject moral equivalence into the situation of chaos and terror.

“We should call evil by its name,” tweeted Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the Senate. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

“Very important for the nation to hear @POTUS describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio, a competitor for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” tweeted Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.

Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, said Trump’s speech was not his “best effort,” and faulted the President for “failure to acknowledge the racism, failure to acknowledge the white supremacy, failure to acknowledge the people who are marching around with Nazi flags on American soil.”

In his decades of public life, Trump has never been one to hold back his thoughts, and that has continued in the White House, where in his seven months as President it has become clear that he views conflicts as primarily black-and-white.

Trump’s Twitter account has become synonymous for blunt burns, regularly using someone’s name when he feels they slighted him or let him down. Trump, in just the last week, has used his Twitter account to call out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, charge Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal with crying “like a baby” and needle media outlets by name.

His campaign was defined by his direct attacks. He pointedly attacked Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, for his speech at the Democratic National Committee that challenged his understanding of the Constitution, suggested federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was unable to be impartial because of his Mexican heritage and said in a CNN interview that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” after she questioned him at a debate.

Even before Trump was a presidential candidate, he was driven by a guiding principle imparted on him by Roy Cohn, his lawyer-turned-mentor: “If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard.”

“What happens is they hit me and I hit them back harder,” he told Fox News in 2016. “That’s what we want to lead the country.”

Criticized others for not quickly calling attacks ‘terrorism’

On Saturday at his Bedminster resort, Trump’s bluntness gave way to vagueness as he failed to mention the impetus behind the violence that left at least one person dead in the streets of Charlottesville.

In doing so, Trump left it to anonymous White House officials to explain his remarks, leaving the door open to questions about his sincerity and why he won’t talk about the racists at the heart of the protests.

“The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides,” a White House official said. “There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

By being equivocal, Trump also failed to follow the same self-proclaimed rules he used to hammer other politicians.

Trump constantly slammed Obama and Clinton during his run for the presidency for failing to label terrorist attacks as such. He called out the two Democrats for failing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“These are radical Islamic terrorists and she won’t even mention the word, and nor will President Obama,” Trump said during an October 9 presidential debate. “Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name.”
Trump declined to do just that on Saturday, as video of white nationalists flooded TV screens across the country hours after a smaller group marched through Charlottesville at night holding tiki torches and chanted, “You will not replace us.”

Instead, Trump called for “a swift restoration of law and order” and said the federal government was “ready, willing and able” to provide “whatever other assistance is needed.” He saluted law enforcement for their response and said he spoke with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, about the attack.

But the businessman-turned-president also touted his own economic achievements during his brief speech, mentioning employment numbers and recent companies that decided to relocate to the United States.

“We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it is very, very sad,” he said.

White nationalists tie themselves to Trump

The reality for Trump is that his presidency helped white nationalists gain national attention, with groups drafting off his insurgent candidacy by tying themselves to the President and everything he stood for.

After the election, in a November 2016 interview with The New York Times, Trump disavowed the movement and said he did not intend to energize the alt-right.

“I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group,” Trump told a group of Times reporters and columnists during a meeting at the newspaper’s headquarters in New York.

He added: “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”

But men like David Duke, possibly the most famous white nationalist, directly tied Saturday’s protests to Trump.

“We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” Duke said in an interview with The Indianapolis Star on Saturday in Charlottesville. “That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

When Trump tweeted earlier on Saturday that everyone “must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Duke grew angry, feeling that the man who help bring white nationalist to this point was slamming them. He urged Trump — via Twitter — to “take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

Though earlier in the day Trump billed Saturday’s event as a press conference, the President declined to respond to shouted question that would have allowed him to directly take on white nationalists.

“Mr. President, do you want the support of these white nationalist groups who say they support you, Mr. President? Have you denounced them strongly enough,” one reporter shouted.

“A car plowing into people, would you call that terrorism sir?” another asked.
Trump walked out of the room.

[CNN]

Trump Rally-Goer Roughed Up After Being Wrongly IDed as a Protester

During President Trump’s Harrisburg, Pa. rally marking his 100th day in office on Saturday, an attendee named Neil Makhija says he was surrounded by Trump supporters and “shoved up against the wall” after being wrongly identified as a protester.

“It was a disturbing moment,” said Makhija speaking to AOL.com, who says multiple Trump supporters wearing “Bikers for Trump” shirts cornered him while he was listening to the president’s speech. Video of an altercation at the New Holland Arena in the Farm Show and Expo Center shows a group of men surrounding Makhija, pushing him while shoving pro-Trump signs in front of his face.

According to Makhija, the incident began when a person standing next to him was being removed from the rally after holding up a sign that read, “The sea levels are rising.”

“Then a supporter just pointed at me and said, ‘Hey, take that guy too,’ and they went after me,” said Makhija who denies knowing the protesters and says he was not at the rally to cause problems but rather to listen to the president’s speech.

Multiple protesters were removed from the rally throughout the president’s speech.

Makhija, a Harvard-educated lawyer and a former Democratic candidate for state House added, “I’m not saying it’s cause the way I look, but they just don’t want anyone here who’s not vehemently supportive.” Makhija is also a resident of Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

Law enforcement stepped in as Trump supporters pushed Makhija towards the exit. He was then escorted out of the arena briefly before returning to the rally once police assessed the situation.

“We see a issue and we just help out,” said a man who did not provide his name but was wearing a “Bikers for Trump” and was involved in the altercation. “I don’t know what happened over there … I don’t know the facts. Ask him, he knows all about it,” he while pointing to Makhija.

Makhija admits he’s not a Trump supporter, but he insists he came to Saturday’s rally with an open mind. “I’m not a protester, I actually pay attention and wanted to see the president when he came back.”

“I wanted to see if he actually said something about the opioid issue — he hasn’t said anything at all,” said Makhija.

(h/t AOL)

Media

https://www.aol.com/29c9b4f5-d332-49d3-aba9-f766431ba2d9

Trump is Being Sued for Saying ‘Get ’Em Out of Here’ at a Rally. He Just Did it Again.

“Get them out of here.”

Those five words have already led to a lawsuit against President Donald Trump. But Trump continued to use them Saturday night at a rally celebrating his first 100 days in office.

According to CNN, Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau attended a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2016 to protest. When they did so, however, Trump took notice and said from the podium, “Get them out of here.”

The protesters then say they were pushed out of the venue as Trump supporters yelled at them, per the Washington Post. In a suit filed this year, the three are accusing several supporters of assault and battery and Trump himself of incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness. They say Trump should have known that his words would have sparked violence.

That case is still making its way through the legal system, but on April 1, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled that it was plausible that Trump’s words has incited violence and ruled that the lawsuit could proceed, a defeat for Trump’s legal team, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

On Saturday, however, Trump was hosting another rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when another protest seemed to break out. Trump stopped his speech to say, “That’s right, get him out of here. Get him out.” The crowd then began to chant, “USA!” as Trump watched. Trump resumed by saying “Thank you” and then praising law enforcement.

Another social media post showed multiple law enforcement officials restraining a protester on the ground. A key argument of Trump’s legal team in the current lawsuit is that his comments were clearly directed at law enforcement officials, not supporters, but Hale rejected that claim.

Two of the original protesters who are being sued for the events of the Louisville rally have since filed claims saying they took Trump’s words as a directive towards them to remove the protesters. Because of this, the two supporters say, Trump should be held liable for their actions, not them, according to the Associated Press.

(h/t McClatchy)

Trump Calls for Investigation Into Tax Day Protesters

President Donald Trump on Twitter Sunday lashed out against citizens who’d taken to the streets to exercise their First Amendment rights.

While claiming that thousands of people who on Saturday demanded Trump finally release his full tax returns were “paid” protesters, Trump tweeted, “The election is over!”

“Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies,” Trump tweeted a day after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 150 cities across the country.

An hour after wishing his 28 million followers a Happy Easter, Trump hailed his November win and called out those making his undisclosed tax history an issue.

“I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?” Trump said on Twitter.

The president then followed up by repeating an unsubstantiated claim he’s made before that some of the protesters against him were “paid,” an allegation that became popular in some right-wing circles in the build up to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump himself used paid actors to pose as rally attendees during his campaign.

The Tax Day protesters called for Trump to release his tax returns — something nearly all major presidential candidates have done since the 1970s — and call on lawmakers to represent their interests over those of major corporations.

Trump and his administration have repeatedly dismissed calls for him to release his taxes, first claiming he couldn’t because he was being audited, then saying the issue was more of interest to journalists and liberal politicians.

But a poll from the Pew Research Center in January found that more than two-thirds of all Americans believe the president has an obligation to release his tax returns.

This is not the first time the president has tweeted such accusations in the wake of major demonstrations against him and his policies. On Nov. 10, Trump tweeted that protests against his victory were “unfair” and said “professional protesters, incited by the media” were turning out in the streets.

And on Feb. 3, in the midst of major protests against Trump’s first executive order on immigration, the president tweeted that “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

(h/t NBC News)

Trump Says Obama Behind Leaks

President Donald Trump said he believes former President Barack Obama has been behind the leaks within his administration and the sizable, angry town hall crowds Republicans have faced across the country.

Trump was asked in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” if he believed Obama was responsible for the town hall protests against Republicans this month.

“It turns out his organization seems to do a lot of these organizing to some of the protests that these Republicans are seeing around the country against you. Do you believe President Obama is behind it and if he is, is that a violation of the so-called unsaid presidents’ code?” Trump was asked.

“No, I think he is behind it. I also think it is politics, that’s the way it is,” Trump replied.

Trump then discussed the leaks that have disrupted his first month in office.

“You never know what’s exactly happening behind the scenes. You know, you’re probably right or possibly right, but you never know,” Trump said in the interview, a clip of which was released Monday night. “No, I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, which are really serious because they are very bad in terms of national security. But I also understand that is politics. In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue.”

Trump did not offer any evidence for his claim in the clip released by Fox Monday night. CNN has reached out to Obama’s office for comment.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to expand Tuesday on Trump’s claim that Obama was behind the protests, telling reporters that she would let the comments stand by themselves.

When asked if the White House believes Obama is behind the protests, Sanders added, “I think the bottom line here is we all have condemned the protests. I think that is the bigger story here, and the focus we should be talking about that this isn’t something that helps and moves us forward and that is what we are focused on right now.”

A broad coalition of groups, including Organizing For Action, the SEIU, MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress have been working to help with grassroots organizing around GOP town halls.

Organizing for Action, the group formed from Obama’s campaign organization, has 14 professional organizers, for example, who are involved in teaching local activists skills to effectively vocalize opposition to the GOP’s top agenda items.

Earlier this month, Trump told Fox News that reports of his calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were caused by leaks from “Obama people.”

Trump’s administration has been beset by leaks within his administration to the media, and he has continually railed against those doing the leaking and the media since taking office. He has said the leaks are damaging to national security.

Approval ratings for the President’s job performance have been at historic lows. A recent Quinnipiac University survey found that 55% of American voters disapprove of Trump’s performance.

But the President said he would give himself an “A” in achievement but in messaging a “C or C plus.”

“In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C plus,” Trump said. “In terms of achievement I think I’d give myself an A. Because I’ve done great things, but I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American people.”

The President also gave himself an “A” for “effort.”

(h/t CNN)

Media

Trump Threatens Funding Cut If UC Berkeley ‘Does Not Allow Free Speech’

President Trump early Thursday threatened to cut federal funding to the University of California, Berkley after violent protests broke out on its campus Wednesday in response to a planned appearance by a far-right commentator.

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

A scheduled appearance by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday night about two hours before the Breitbart editor was scheduled to speak.

The university said in a statement the violence was “instigated by a group of about 150 masked agitators who came onto campus and interrupted an otherwise non-violent protest,” according to NPR.

“This was a group of agitators who were masked up, throwing rocks, commercial grade fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers,” U.C. Berkeley Police Chief Margo Bennet told The Associated Press.

More than 1,500 people had showed up to protest Yiannopoulos’s appearance on campus.

At least six people were injured, according to CNN.

Yiannopoulos called what happened “an expression of political violence,” according to CNN.

“I’m just stunned that hundreds of people … were so threatened by the idea that a conservative speaker might be persuasive, interesting, funny and might take some people with him, they have to shut it down at all costs,” he said in a Facebook Live video.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Will Be First President With a Personal Security Force Outside the Secret Service

President-elect Donald Trump has continued employing a private security and intelligence team at his victory rallies, and he is expected to keep at least some members of the team after he becomes president, according to people familiar with the plans.

The arrangement represents a major break from tradition. All modern presidents and presidents-elect have entrusted their personal security entirely to the Secret Service, and their event security mostly to local law enforcement, according to presidential security experts and Secret Service sources.

But Trump — who puts a premium on loyalty and has demonstrated great interest in having forceful security at his events — has opted to maintain an aggressive and unprecedented private security force, led by Keith Schiller, a retired New York City cop and Navy veteran who started working for Trump in 1999 as a part-time bodyguard, eventually rising to become his head of security.

Security officials warn that employing private security personnel heightens risks for the president-elect and his team, as well as for protesters, dozens of whom have alleged racial profiling, undue force or aggression at the hands of Trump’s security, with at least 10 joining a trio of lawsuits now pending against Trump, his campaign or its security.

“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, who left the Secret Service in 2014 and is now executive director of a security company called RANE (short for Risk Assistance Network + Exchange), said if he were the lead agent at a Trump rally, “I wouldn’t allow it.” But he suggested it’s a tricky situation for the Secret Service. “What are they going to do, pick a fight with the president-elect and his advisers? That’s not a way to start a romance.”

Several past presidential nominees have used private security or, in the case of governors running for president, state police details. But the experts could not think of another example of a president-elect continuing with any private security after Election Day, when Secret Service protection expands dramatically for the winner. In fact, most candidates drop any outside security the moment they’re granted Secret Service protection.

Trump’s spending on private security, on the other hand, actually increased after he was granted Secret Service protection in November 2015.

Through the end of last month, Trump’s campaign had spent more than $1 million on private security contracting, compared with $360,000 spent by the campaign of his vanquished Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That’s despite the fact that every other aspect of her campaign operation dwarfed his. Overall, her campaign outspent his by nearly 75 percent.

Whereas Clinton’s security spending — like that of most presidential campaigns — went mostly to protection for her offices and payments to local law enforcement or security companies for ad hoc event security, Trump’s campaign took it to a whole different level. It built a robust private security force that traveled the country supplementing the protective personal security supplied by the Secret Service, and working to identify and remove possible protesters — or just people Trump and his allies had a bad feeling about — from his events.

The private security team has been present at each of the seven rallies on Trump’s post-election “Thank You Tour” and has removed protesters — sometimes roughly — at many stops.

That included about a dozen protesters during a rally here on Dec. 9 in a minor-league arena called the Deltaplex, where Trump mostly shrugged off the interruptions until he became impatient with a particularly disruptive protester. “Get ‘em out!” the president-elect instructed his private security. That appeared to spur Trump’s security director, Schiller, to venture away from the stage, where he arrived with Trump, and wade deep into the crowd to assist other private security personnel with the removal.

Before the end of the rally, Schiller returned to his place by Trump’s side, along with a Secret Service contingent of which he is often misidentified as a member. (Despite being — at 58 years old — significantly older than most agents, Schiller looks the part, invariably sporting a uniform of dark suits and white shirts, along with a Secret Service-issued perimeter pin, and maintaining an athletic 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound frame.) Together, the entourage accompanied Trump back to the airport, onto his plane and back to New York. It was the same routine as Schiller and Trump repeated countless times during the campaign, and it likely will be repeated countless more times over the coming years, since Schiller is expected to follow Trump into the White House, according to multiple sources on the transition team.

In interviews with about a dozen people who interact with Trump, they said even as the president-elect’s Secret Service detail has expanded significantly since the election, he remains most comfortable with Schiller and his team. A native of New Paltz, New York, and father of two, Schiller has been director of security for The Trump Organization since 2004.

The Trump associates say Schiller is expected to become a personal White House aide who would serve as the incoming president’s full-time physical gatekeeper, though he might not be able to offer his boss the wide range of services he has in the past. For instance, federal law prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers from bringing firearms into federal buildings, and there are even stricter rules about who can carry on the White House grounds or around Secret Service protectees. Schiller had been armed at times early in the campaign, but it’s unclear whether he continued carrying a firearm after Trump was granted Secret Service protection.

Even after the arrival of Trump’s Secret Service detail, which typically marks the end of any pre-existing security arrangement, Schiller never strayed from his boss’ side.

The associates say Schiller provides more than just security. Trump has been known to ask Schiller’s opinion on all manner of subjects. When people want to reach Trump, they often call Schiller’s cellphone and he decides who gets through to the boss.

Photos often show Schiller looming over Trump’s shoulder as he works crowds, standing sentry by the stage as Trump speaks, or ejecting protesters from rallies. He’s developed a small but avid fan base on Twitter, where Trump supporters cheer Schiller’s confrontations with protesters, pose for selfies with him at events and backstage, and praise him as a brave “American Eagle” who kept Trump “safe & sound.”

And Schiller, a registered Republican, showed signs of reveling in Trump’s campaign, creating his own Twitter account just before the first primaries to promote the campaign and chronicle his unique perspective from the trail. He occasionally channeled his boss’ attacks on rivals like Ted Cruz (“Wow Lyin Ted is becoming unhinged! So sad…,” he tweeted as Trump was clinching the GOP nomination over the Texas senator) and spread false claims about Democrats, including that 20 percent of Clinton’s campaign cash came from people who were responsible for the September 2001 terrorist attacks, that a grand jury had been convened to investigate her use of a private email server for State Department business and that Obama encouraged undocumented immigrants to vote illegally.

Yet Schiller mostly remains — as one former campaign aide put it — “the most important man no one has ever heard of.”

That influence comes from Schiller’s ability to essentially control access to Trump, acting as his liaison to everyone from staff and well-wishers to dignitaries — and even Secret Service agents.

“Keith is kind of a consigliere,” said a transition team official. “He knows all the players, all the properties. He has the confidence of Trump and of the family. To describe him as a body guy would be very, very beneath the role that he actually plays.”

A younger aide — possibly the campaign’s trip director John McEntee — likely will be tapped for the traditional body man valet-like role, while Schiller would fill a new type of a hybrid staff-security role, the official explained. “Keith knows Trump inside and out. He knows when he turns right and when it turns left,” the official said.

Yet Schiller’s tight relationship with — and protectiveness of — his boss has already complicated the Secret Service’s rigid protection protocols, say allies of the agency and independent security experts.

In March, when a 32-year-old man jumped a barricade and rushed toward the stage as Trump was speaking at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Secret Service agents immediately descended on Trump from opposite sides of the dais, encircling him in a human shield as a handful of other agents tackled the man before he could leap onto the stage. About a second after the first two agents reached Trump, Schiller leapt onto the stage and moved to position himself between the scrum and his boss.

The response appeared tightly choreographed to the untrained eye — a phalanx of men in dark suits and close-cropped hair swarming to protect their charge.

But in law enforcement circles, Schiller’s reaction was panned as too slow and was the subject of disapproving conversation among agents, according to a law enforcement source briefed on the conversations. The source said one agent described Schiller as the “JV trying to keep up in a varsity game.”

Specifically, the source said that Schiller came from a position on the dais that the agents would have used to evacuate Trump if that were to have been necessary. “If that happened, they would have run right into Keith. He was about three seconds too late,” the source said.

Joe Funk, a former Secret Service agent who worked several presidential campaigns, said agents throughout their careers are “trained nonstop to react to different situations based on your position and distance from the protectee in what they call AOP, or assaults on the principal.” That includes intensive drilling as a detail before being deployed to protect a presidential candidate or president “to familiarize yourself with the people who you are going to be working with.”

Stressing that he wasn’t assessing the response to the Dayton incident, Funk said “without any slight to Keith or to any of 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 would.”

Since retiring from the Secret Service in 2005, Funk has provided private security for presidential candidates, including Obama in the early stages of the 2008 campaign and Mitt Romney in 2012. In both those cases, he said that when the Secret Service took over, he almost immediately stepped aside. “My assignment was over. That was it.”

So Funk said that he was “very surprised,” while providing security for Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign, to witness firsthand Trump’s “composite detail” including the Service and private security at multicandidate events during the primary. “I was under the impression that at some point this would be weeded out,” or that the private security would revert to more of a traditional staff role, said Funk, who is senior vice president at a private security firm called TorchStone Global. As for why that appears not to have occurred, Funk said “there may be a very good reason for it, but as a layperson on the outside looking in, I’m just kind of scratching my head. In my experience, this is unprecedented.”

Agents and their associates told POLITICO that Schiller and his team initially bristled at the Secret Service’s move to take the lead, and that the continued presence of the private security brigade at events has caused tension and in some cases gotten in the way of the Secret Service’s protocols.

During the campaign, Schiller and his team could be seen at rallies appearing to direct Secret Service agents, local police and employees of security companies hired for specific events.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to respond to a series of questions about the private security officials, who is paying them, their relationship with the Secret Service, whether they’re armed and what their roles will be after inauguration. Instead, she said in a statement, “Trump rallies are incredibly safe events and are executed with support from USSS, local law enforcement and private security to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all guests in attendance. For further details please reach out to the USSS.”

Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor issued a statement saying, “The Secret Service does not provide information regarding our protective operations,” and referring to a section of the U.S. Code that outlines the agency’s obligations to protect the president-elect. As for the agency’s relationship with Trump’s security personnel and whether the Service has asked Trump to dial back his security or whether the security carry firearms, Mainor responded only: “The individuals you are referring to are staff personnel.”

Schiller did not respond to requests for comment.

In a little-noticed video interview recorded in Trump Tower less than two months after then-candidate Trump was granted Secret Service protection, Schiller said his team had “a great working relationship” with the Secret Service. “They bring their own set of assets, which is right now, we can use everything we can get, as far as the way the world is right now, and the campaign in itself. It’s inherently a risky business every day,” Schiller said in the interview, which was posted in January of this year.

But he also noted that he had received “some dignitary protection training through the Secret Service” when he was on the New York City police force, and he touted the capacity of the private security team he oversees. “We have the best assets money can buy, I can assure you of that, as far as protecting him, his family and his property,” Schiller told the interviewer, Rich Siegel, one of his childhood buddies from New Paltz.

Schiller explained that he has “more than a dozen people” working for him. While he said that “I’m no stranger to putting my hands on people,” thanks to his days in the New York City Police Department’s narcotics units, he added, “Things are different right now. I hire big guys who do all the fighting.”

The identities and numbers of the employees who constitute Trump’s private security operation — as well as other details — are not entirely clear. That’s partly because at least some of the costs — including Schiller’s salary at one point in the campaign — appeared to be split between The Trump Organization corporate structure and Trump’s presidential campaign, and also because the campaign paid many of its security officials, including several who continued working for Trump after the election, through opaque corporate structures.

Schiller himself was paid $181,000 for campaign work from July 2015 through mid-November, according to FEC filings, with some of it coming in the form of in-kind payments, likely indicating money paid to Schiller by The Trump Organization, and possibly reimbursed by Trump personally.

The campaign also paid $50,000 for “security services” during the second half of the year to a company called KS Global Group LLC. While the company, which was registered anonymously in Delaware in October 2015, bears Schiller’s initials, neither he nor the Trump transition team would comment on who is behind it.

Another company, Black Tie Protection Services, which a Trump campaign operative said is linked to Schiller’s team, was paid more than $106,000 in the final four months of the campaign.

And the campaign paid $28,000 for security services to a company called ASIT Consulting, which is owned by a 62-year-old former FBI agent named Don Albracht, who has been known to film and occasionally taunt protesters.

But by far the biggest recipient of Trump security cash is a company called XMark LLC, which boasts on its website that its employees have expertise in surveillance, “close quarter battle” and “tactical shooting skills” and that the firm “provided all PPD [personal protection detail] for Mr. Trump’s campaign travel to include all advance work and coordination with local law enforcement agencies, in support, throughout the country, until being relieved by the United States Secret Service in mid-November of 2015.”

Yet the company continued receiving payments from Trump’s campaign after that point, with $89,000 coming after Election Day. Its officials — including president Eddie Deck and vice president Gary Uher, both of whom are retired FBI agents — were seen policing the crowds at Trump rallies throughout the campaign, as well as during the post-election “Thank You Tour.” The pair — combined with XMark and a retired New York City cop named Michael Sharkey, who also is associated with the company — have been paid nearly $579,000 and counting by the campaign.

Trump transition team sources say the thank you rallies are being funded by Trump’s campaign committee, but that Trump, as president, might headline rallies funded and organized by a still-in-the-works outside group that will be able to accept huge donations unbound by federal campaign limits.

While Trump’s Saturday rally in Mobile, Alabama, was the last one scheduled on the tour, he hinted to the crowd that he intends to resume the rallies as president. “This is the last time I’ll be speaking at a rally for maybe a while. You know, they’re saying as president he shouldn’t be doing rallies, but I think we should, right?” he said, prompting loud applause. “We’ve done everything else the opposite. Well, no, this is the way you get an honest word out, because you can’t give it to [he press] because they’re so dishonest.”

If Trump’s team continues funding the rallies using private money, it would have the right to “decide who can attend their events, including which opinions or speech they deem acceptable by attendees,” said Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

She co-wrote a post in March on the ACLU’s website bemoaning that the removal of protesters of color from this year’s presidential campaign rallies is “certainly not what we want our democracy to look like.”

Nonetheless, Rowland told POLITICO that as long as Trump’s campaign or an outside group “organizes and sets the rules for a private event, and a politician, including the president, is an invited guest, then the host can decide whether and when to revoke attendees’ invitations. That would make them trespassers and allow them to be legally removed.” If the rallies were funded or organized by the government, on the other hand, then only law enforcement could identify protesters for ejection and actually remove them, and only then for breaking the law, she said.

Trump’s private security team has taken full advantage of that latitude, and Deck, who appears to be the leader of the rally security unit, has served as the point of the spear.

Deck, a buff 62-year-old who at various times took to wearing street clothes to blend into rally crowds so he could sleuth out protesters, has drawn repeated complaints about excessive force and ejecting people solely because they don’t look like Trump supporters.

At an April rally in Harrington, Delaware, Deck was captured on video calling for assistance from Delaware state troopers to remove two young African-Americans separately. When one, Anwar Dyer, protested “I didn’t say anything,” Deck responded “I don’t care. You’re leaving. You’re leaving. And if you don’t leave, you’re gonna get hooked up, and I know you don’t want to get hooked up.”

A college student who attended a Trump rally in Tucson, Arizona, in March told POLITICO that Deck “grabbed my arm and angrily pulled me through the crowd,” adding: “I genuinely believe I was kicked out because I am transgender.”

At an August rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Deck removed an 18-year-old Indian-American Trump supporter named Jake Anantha, who Deck accused of having protested at past Trump rallies. Anantha, a registered Republican who was wearing a Trump shirt, later complained to The Charlotte Observer, “Why are all these white people allowed to attend and I’m not?”

Messages left for Albracht and at XMark email and phone numbers were not returned. And it was not clear whether they would continue working with Trump’s security team in any rallies he might do as president.

Henry Brousseau — who alleges that he was punched in the stomach by Trump supporters after shouting “Black Lives Matter” at a March rally in Charlotte — said Trump’s security “did not seem to be interested at all in public safety. They were there to keep the rally on message. They were being speech police.”

Brousseau, who was a high school senior at the time, and two fellow protesters were ejected. And now they’re suing Trump and his campaign, as well as the convention center for failing to provide adequate security, while also claiming that Trump’s calls to “get ’em out” were “calculated to incite violence against the plaintiffs.”

Brousseau said “it is a pattern of silencing his opponents” that is “unpresidential, undemocratic and un-American.”

Another lawsuit was filed three weeks before the election, in part by an African-American man who alleges he was punched, kicked and called racial slurs by Trump supporters at a November 2015 Trump rally in Birmingham, even after security arrived on the scene — all while Trump yelled “get him the hell out of here!” It calls on Trump’s campaign, the convention center and the city of Birmingham “to pay for damages, institute new procedures for security and issue a public apology to those who attended the rally in question and to the residents of Birmingham.”

A third lawsuit alleges that Schiller, Deck, Uher and two other Trump security officers assaulted a handful of protesters during a raucous protest outside the campaign’s Manhattan headquarters in September.

In an affidavit in the case, Schiller acknowledged that he struck one of the protesters in the head. But he says that was because he felt the protester “physically grab me from behind and also felt that person’s hand on my firearm, which was strapped on the right side of my rib cage in a body holster. Based on my years of training, I instinctively reacted by turning around in one movement and striking the person with my open hand.”

The protesters’ lawyers deposed Schiller, Deck and Uher in the days leading up to the Grand Rapids rally.

The judge in June ruled that Trump would not have to provide a deposition in the case, despite the assertion by the protesters’ lawyers that “Trump has had a substantial role in bringing about violence on the part of his security guards.”

(h/t Politico)

Trump to Supporters Harassing Minorities: ‘Stop It’

Donald Trump on Sunday told his supporters to stop harassing minorities, in his first televised sit-down interview since becoming President-elect.

“I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump told CBS’ Lesley Stahl on “60 Minutes” when she said Latinos and Muslims are facing harassment. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.'”

Trump directed his comments to his own supporters whom Stahl said have written racist slogans or chanted degrading messages — particularly in schools. It was a powerful appeal to a nation ripped apart by the divisive 2016 campaign. Trump’s election has left Democrats angry and many minorities fearful about the future.

Yet Trump also criticized the protests that have broken out in cities across the United States since his defeat of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

Trump said he’s seen “a very small amount” — including “one or two instances” — of racial slurs being directed at minorities, particularly in largely white schools, since his election.
“I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, because I’m going to bring this country together,” Trump said.

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Canter told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday that there have been more that 300 incidents that their organization has recorded.

“He needs to take a little bit more responsibility for what’s happening,” Cohen said.

As for anti-Trump protests, Trump said, “I think it’s horrible if that’s happening. I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this country, which could’ve been there before. If I weren’t even around doing this, and they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.”

Media

Trump complains About ‘Unfair’ Protestors, Deletes His Tweets Calling for Revolution in 2012

President-elect Donald Trump has got his Twitter back. After meeting with President Obama at the White House yesterday, Trump fired off a couple of tweets, including one complaining about “professional protestors” who he claims have been “incited by the media.” “Very unfair!” was the initial verdict, although a later tweet praised the protestors’ “passion for our great country.”

Trump’s judgement on the protests (which are set to continue tonight) seems typically hypocritical considering his reaction to Obama’s reelection in 2012. On November 7th that year, Trump tweeted that US citizens should “march on Washington and stop this travesty,” and that the country needed to “fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice.”

Here’s Trump in 2012:

And here he is in 2016:

In one tweet that was recently deleted (but can be seen here and here), Trump even called for revolution, saying of Obama: “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!” He blamed America’s “phoney” electoral college system for the result, despite the fact Obama did not actually lose the popular vote — he beat Republican candidate Mitt Romney by 5 million votes.

Of course, the (imaginary) state of affairs Trump railed against as undemocratic in 2012, has won him the presidency in 2016. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a relatively small margin — some 400,000 votes — but lost the election thanks to the electoral college.

(h/t The Verge)

 

 

 

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