Trump's former bodyguard to face questioning on Capitol Hill

Trump's former bodyguard to face questioning on Capitol Hill
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The House Intelligence Committee is set to question President Trump’s former longtime bodyguard and confidante, Keith Schiller, on Tuesday afternoon, according to multiple committee members.

The interview, which will take place behind closed doors, is part of the committee’s continuing investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Schiller's close relationship to the president over a number of years, as well as his first-hand seat to a number of incidents that are of keen interest to investigators, potentially makes him an important witness.

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Schiller is expected to face questions about a 2013 trip Trump made to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant — the location of many of the most salacious allegations in a shadowy 35-page dossier put together as opposition research into then-candidate Trump.

Among the claims contained in the dossier is the explosive allegation that the Russian government had obtained compromising information on Trump, or “komperant.” 

Trump has called the document “disgraceful” and “totally made up.” He has suggested the Schiller will tell investigators that the allegations contained in the dossier are false.

“Keith was there,” he told The New York Times in a July interview, referring to the Moscow trip. “He said, ‘What kind of crap is this?’”

“I went there for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back,” Trump continued.

The dossier was produced by a former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele, who was working for a firm hired by Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE’s campaign. It contains a compendium of allegations of coordination between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign.

Some of the allegations in the dossier have been proven false, while some of the broader threads have been supported by public evidence. Some are unproven and are likely unprovable, but the dossier has nevertheless become a flashpoint in the various congressional investigations into Russia's election meddling.

Republicans have largely raised questions about the provenance of the document, demanding to know who Steele’s sources were, who funded the document and how it has been used in the federal investigation. Democrats, meanwhile, have suggested that such inquiries are efforts to discredit Steele and say the more important question is whether the assertions in the document are true.

Schiller will also likely face questions about the dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey. Schiller hand-delivered the letter to Comey informing him that he had been fired this spring, a move that Democrats have characterized as an effort to obstruct justice.

It’s unclear how important committee Republicans view Schiller’s testimony. Many GOP members are anxious to wrap up the sprawling probe, which has been punctuated by partisan infighting and an intra-committee controversy in April that lead to chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stepping back from leading the investigation.

“He’s not one of the witnesses I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Some of them demand a lot more attention than others,” said one committee member.

Schiller, a former New York police detective, is seen as one of Trump’s most loyal aides and closest confidantes.

He began working as Trump’s director of security at the Trump Organization in 2005 and was a constant presence alongside the president on the campaign trail. After the election, he took up a post in the White House as the director of Oval Office Operations.

He left the White House in September, reportedly out of frustration at stricter limits newly installed chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE set on access to the president.