Trump taps U.S. Marine Band for White House event and raises questions about employing the military for political purposes

The band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson gave the group the title “The President’s Own,” according to its online history. The band is called upon when the president is discharging his duties as head of state.

But federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection — and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events. Members of the U.S. military are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.

Administration and military officials said the activity on Saturday was an official White House event called, “Peaceful Protest for Law and Order.”

“The United States Marine Band provided musical support for the Peaceful Protest for Law and Order event, an official event on the South Lawn of the White House,” Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said in a statement. “All tasking for U.S. Marine Band support at the White House, including for this event, is generated by the White House Military Office.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said: “The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees from using their titles and positions to engage in political activity. The president and vice president are exempt but do fall under criminal provisions that prohibit the coercion of federal government employees to engage in political activity.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and his predecessor, retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis, have sought to protect the military from overtly partisan activity. But their efforts have been challenged by a president who has shown a willingness to defy civil-military norms respected by his predecessors, beginning with his first official visit to the Pentagon, when he used the Hall of Heroes to sign a ban on travel from majority-Muslim nations.

In the years since, Trump has treated troop talks and Pentagon appearances like campaign rallies, intervened in military justice cases and signed “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia on official presidential visits to military facilities overseas. He deployed active-duty forces to the southern border with Mexico before the 2018 midterm elections, taking heat for using the military as a political prop.

On Saturday, the Marine Band provided the musical backdrop as a crowd gathered under the South Portico of the White House, where Trump gave remarks from the balcony due to his coronavirus infection. Despite being billed as a non-campaign event, Trump began his talk by calling on the guests to vote his opponents “into oblivion” and attacked his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

Trump’s rallies regularly make use of show tunes, including from “Phantom of the Opera.” Saturday’s event was no exception. One “Blexit” supporter posted a video on Instagram beaming with excitement as the Marine Band played “America” from “West Side Story.”

“We are here at the White House, guys. Look!” the supporter said. “Isn’t it an

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Meet Me @ The Altar share “Garden,” become your new favorite pop-punk band

Who had Paramore down as the most influential band of their generation? Fifteen years on from the release of their debut album All We Know Is Falling, teenagers are still picking up guitars, getting in their feelings, and trying to emulate the Tennessee pop-punks. Not least the members of Meet Me @ The Altar — 19-year-old guitarist Téa Campbell, 21-year-old drummer Ada Juarez, and 19-year-old vocalist Edith Johnson — who all would have been infants when “Pressure” was making its way around torrent sites. Now they’re announcing that they’ve signed to emo bastion Fueled By Ramen, releasing a hugely satisfying new single called “Garden,” and setting themselves up as one of the most exciting young pop bands in the United States.

“Garden,” the video for which is premiering at the foot of the page, is a throwback in every sense: half-pace arpeggiated riffs, a massive chorus, chugging breakdowns thrown in so kids can let loose at a show (some day). Even the saturation on the video seems to have been ripped from an early-aughts MTV 2 marathon. The main difference here — other than the fact that Meet Me @ The Altar is comprised of three women of color, two of whom are gay — is that Campbell, Juarez, and Johnson bring a contagious energy to things. They clearly fucking love what they do. I’m a particular fan of Campbell, who can rip through riffs and trills with virtuosic abandon, but best of all looks shocked and overjoyed every time she does something complex or watches her bandmates do something cool. I’ve listened to this song every day for two weeks and woken up with it in my head just about every morning. It’s been great.

“’Garden’ is about being there for the people in your life who need you the most,” the band wrote in a statement to The FADER. “We wanted to write a super energetic song that was really positive, because a lot of pop-punk isn’t positive. It’s about white dudes, crying over their girlfriends.”

Fuck yeah. Watch the video for “Garden” below.

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