Washington, United States | AFP | Donald Trump’s long-time bodyguard and confidant Keith Schiller is to leave the White House, he said Friday, ending a decades-long run working at businessman-turned-president’s side.
Schiller — who is officially the Director of Oval Office Operations — told AFP that he plans to return to Florida in the coming weeks, saying he was grateful to have had a front row seat to history, but it was time to move on.
“It will be great to look back on in 10-15 years” the imposing former New York police officer said, “it’s historic,” but, he admitted, government work was maybe “not for me.”
He did not travel with the president to Camp David on Friday.
“Today is not my last day” he said, before adding that he plans to return to the Sunshine State after Hurricane Irma passes.
The New York Times and CNN earlier reported that Schiller was leaving, in part for, for financial reasons.
According to White House financial disclosures, Schiller took a roughly $130,000 pay cut to follow Trump to Washington, even though an annual salary of $165,000 makes him one of the best paid White House aides.
Schiller joined the Trump Organization in the late 1990s and has been a trusted presence at his side since, playing the role of companion and aide as well as body man.
He was entrusted with the task of hand delivering the letter that ended James Comey’s tenure as FBI director.
His departure would be the latest in a series of White House staff changes since John Kelly became chief of staff on July 31.
Recent weeks have seen the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon and advisor Sebastian Gorka, both of whom advocated Trump’s lurch to the political right.
Schiller’s presence at Trump’s side was sometimes a cause for controversy.
In 2015 he was filmed striking a protester outside New York’s Trump Tower. His bodyguard instincts sometimes created friction with the Secret Service who are now tasked with Trump’s security.
Schiller and Secret Service agents often danced around each other awkwardly in at the door of the Oval Office or at the president’s side as he sat at the Resolute Desk.
Schiller was also seen as contributing to the early sense of chaos in Trump’s White House by not formalizing who gets access to the president and when.
Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, has brought new discipline and structure to the White House, more tightly controlling the flow of information and people to Trump’s desk.