Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
President Trump’s reelection campaign used a Marine Corps helicopter to hover over a large crowd of cheering supporters, raising questions about the ethics of using the military aircraft for such purposes.
Trump early on Wednesday tweeted a video of the helicopter, which was emblazoned with the Marine Corps’ Helicopter Squadron One green and white paint design.
The unit, based out of Quantico, Va., transports the president and various other senior officials regularly.
What the video shows: The video showed the helicopter hovering low over the campaign event attendees, who stood closely together and cheered and waved as the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Fortunate Son” played. It was not clear from the video if the helicopter was landing or hovered for a period of time before moving on.
A separate split screen playing below that video showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at a smaller campaign event where attendees stood alone in separate, marked circles on the ground to enable social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Why it’s an issue: The video raises questions about the ethics of the Pentagon’s role in the event.
Department of Defense (DOD) policy prohibits military members from participating in campaign activities such as volunteering for a candidate, attending a rally or appearing in materials while in uniform, though they are allowed to do so off duty.
The Marine Corps did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did the Trump campaign.
An earlier controversy: The Trump campaign earlier this month drew similar scrutiny when it used the Pentagon’s senior civilian and uniformed officials in a new online advertisement, in violation of the standing Pentagon policy.
Read the rest at: Trump Jets