Trump Didn’t Have The Backbone To Fire James Comey Himself; Here’s The Former Bodyguard He Chose To Do It For Him

President Donald Trump may be known for his catchphrase of “You’re fired!” on the reality-TV series The Apprentice, but they don’t seem to be the type of words he likes to utter in every day life. That’s one of several reasons why Trump left it to his former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to deliver the news to newly-ousted FBI Directer James Comey. So who is Keith Schiller?

Schiller, one of the president’s most trusted aides, has taken a step up in the world since Trump’s election victory, earning himself the title of Director of Oval Office Operations after almost two decades of watching Trump’s back. According to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, “The president has exceptional confidence in Keith. If he asks him to do something, he knows it will get done.”

Schiller first encountered the Trump clan when he was working as a New York City police detective and spotted Marla Maples, Trump’s second wife, in the Manhattan prosecutor’s office back in 1999; Schiller was there for a meeting with Maples, who was reporting a theft by an employee. Not long after he sat down, a man pulled up a seat and introduced himself to Schiller as Trump’s current bodyguard.

“I looked at him, totally not impressed by his stature, physical stature,” Schiller recalled in 2015 in a rare videotaped interview. “A light goes off. I said: ‘Bodyguard, I can do this’ . . . I’m no stranger to putting my hands on people.”

His mind was made up and Schiller reached out to Trump, landing a part-time position as a bodyguard. After retiring from the police department in 2004, Schiller began working for Trump full-time, now as the Trump Organization’s director of security, a role which involved following Trump on the road during his campaign trail from that point, even providing an extra layer of security after the Secret Service took over.

Schiller rarely gives interviews, but that hasn’t stopped those around him from doing so and Michael Caputo, a political adviser who worked with Trump between 2013 and 2016, probably summed up best what Schiller means to the Trump organization. “Keith Schiller is not just some bodyguard,” says Caputo. “Nobody knows the score among the advisers better than Keith Schiller.  . . . Keith’s always known what’s what among the people who are in Donald Trump’s orbit.”

Never was that level of trust on clearer display than in April when Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, traveled to Iraq. Despite the fact that Iraq specialist that would usually be present didn’t participate after being told there was no room for them on the plane, Schiller was given a seat at the table during talks with members of the Iraqi government and appeared in official group photographs during the trip.

Before becoming a member of Trump’s elite inner circle, Schiller was renowned among his NYPD colleagues for his size and strength. “He was strong as an ox,” said David Chong, who served as Schiller’s boss for eight years on a New York City police task force on high-intensity drug-trafficking areas. In fact, on some raids, Chong claims that Schiller would volunteer to carry the 60-pound battering ram, anticipating breaking in the door when he reached the top of the stairs.

Schiller was also Trump’s right-hand man during a WWE event, stepping briefly into the spotlight after Trump “slapped” World Wrestling Entertainment chief Vince McMahon in the center of the ring. As part of the bit, McMahon charged Trump, only to be stopped and repeatedly pushed back by Schiller before finally getting thrown to the ground by Donald Trump’s head goon.

Naturally, anyone associated with the Trump organization isn’t going to be without their controversies and Keith Schiller has more than his fair share. For example, in September 2015 during Trump’s campaign, Schiller took a sign from a protester. Unexpectedly, the protester, Efrain Galicia, lunged at Schiller but only received a punch in the face for his efforts, however, Galicia and other protesters are currently attempting to sue. During his testimony, Schiller acknowledged that at the time of the incident, he did not hold a valid New York state security guard license. On another occasion several days earlier, Schiller forcefully removed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a Trump campaign news conference for repeatedly asking questions about immigration.

All things considered, it comes as no surprise that Donald Trump didn’t fire the towering James Comey himself on Tuesday, opting for Keith Schiller over even a more junior staffer. Why would he when he has this type of hired muscle sitting at a desk a few feet away?

Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images