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Alex Brandon / AP

Keith Schiller was never just a bodyguard. He's worked for Trump since 1999 and in nearly 20 years has become one of a handful of people outside of Trump's immediate family that the president truly trusts.

Now he's leaving the White House, and Trump's friends worry about the effect Schiller's absence will have on the president's psyche. Trump believes Schiller "tells him the truth because the only dog he has in the fight is the boss," a friend told Axios. Trump confides in Schiller and asks his advice about everything, including policy.

Schiller, a former NYPD officer who is beloved by the original staff from the Trump campaign, is also a Breitbart-style conservative who kept Trump in touch with the Republican base and with the law enforcement community.

"He's a winger! He's one of us," said another friend of Schiller's.

  • For the past eight months, Schiller has been the conduit linking Trump to his old life, and old friends, in New York City.
  • In the early, freewheeling days of this administration, Trump's old contacts had a method for getting around the Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus: If they wanted to reach Trump, they'd text Keith, and before too long they'd often receive a call from the president.
  • As Director of Oval Office Operations, Schiller oversaw what some aides regarded as a "shitshow." Nowadays, General Kelly tightly polices, and lists, who can visit the Oval; but Schiller operated more or less by gut instinct. He had a feeling for what Trump wanted at any given moment, whether the boss would want to see this person or whether he was in the right mood for visitors.

Schiller has talked to associates about leaving for a while. He'll make more money on the outside, and under the Kelly regime, and with so many people by his side these days, Trump has less use for Schiller, operationally. Emotionally... that's a different story.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

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