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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Trump Says He Didn’t Want to Stay Locked in White House But Will Spend Next Few Days In Military Hospital Suite

President Donald Trump said he didn’t want to be locked up in the White House following his COVID-19 diagnosis, but will now spend the next few days in a special suite at a military hospital.



a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C.


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

The president arrived at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday just a day after news emerged that he had tested positive for the disease.

On Saturday, Trump released a video message from his suite, saying he had “no choice” but to leave the White House.

“I just didn’t want to stay in the White House, I was given that alternative. Stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave. Don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it. Don’t see people, don’t talk to people and just be done with it. And i can’t do that, I had to be out front,” he said.

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“This is America, this is the greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world. I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe, and just say, ‘Hey, whatever happens, happens. I can’t do that. As a leader you have to confront problems.”

Trump will now work out of his suite for the next “few days” out of an “abundance of caution,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

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In the video, Trump said he was “doing well” while adding that the “real test” would come in the next few days.

“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well, I feel much better now. We’re working hard to get me all the way back. I’ll be back, I think I’ll be back soon, and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started and the way we’ve been doing and the kind of numbers that we’ve been doing.”

Due to his age and weight, the 74-year-old president is in one of the highest risk categories for COVID-19. In the video message, he said his wife Melania Trump—who is 24 years his junior—was “doing very well” after she also tested positive for COVID-19.

“Melania is really handling it very nicely. As you’ve probably read, she’s slightly younger than me—just a little tiny bit—and therefore, just, we know the disease, we know the situation with age versus younger people, and Melania is handling it statistically like it’s supposed to be handled. And that makes me very happy, and it makes the country very happy,” he said.

Toward the end of May, as hundreds of Americans protested outside the White House following the

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Trump suggests military and police to blame for staff getting COVID-19

  • President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after his aide and close adviser Hope Hicks did.
  • Speaking to Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday evening, Trump suggested that members of the military or law enforcement may be responsible for giving Hicks the coronavirus.
  • “It’s very hard when you’re with soldiers, when you’re with airmen, when you’re with the Marines, and the police officers,” he said. “When they come over to you, it’s very hard to say ‘stay back, stay back.’ You know, it’s a tough kind of situation.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Just a few hours before he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19, President Donald Trump suggested that interactions with the military and police were to blame for a member of his staff falling ill.

After news broke Thursday evening that senior aide and presidential adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling with the president, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that she might have caught the virus from a member of the military or someone from law enforcement.

“She wears masks a lot, but she tested positive,” Trump told Hannity, before explaining that he and the First Lady had gotten tested because they spent a lot of time with Hicks.

“It’s very hard when you’re with soldiers, when you’re with airmen, when you’re with the Marines, and the police officers,” he continued. “When they come over to you, it’s very hard to say ‘stay back, stay back.’ You know, it’s a tough kind of situation. It’s a terrible thing.”

“It is very very hard when you are with people from the military or from law enforcement and they come over to you,” Trump said. “They want to hug you, and they want to kiss you because we really have done a good job for them.”

“You get close, and things happen. I was surprised to hear with Hope, but she’s a very warm person with them,” he said. “She knows there’s a risk, but she young.”

Hicks frequently comes in contact with active-duty military who fly the president’s aircraft, serve as ceremonial guards and greet him and top officials when he visits their bases. The president did not mention a specific instance when troops recently hugged Hicks. It’s extremely unlikely for a service member in uniform to breach protocol with a hug, especially during a pandemic.

Early Friday, Trump announced on Twitter that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.

It remains to be seen if the president will attempt to use the military or law enforcement as a possible explanation for his own positive test.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19, a virus that has infected millions in the US and claimed the lives of 200,000 Americans.

He has also mocked political opponent and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for wearing masks and keeping his distance from supporters at events.

It is unclear where the president

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Top military generals at White House event before Trump COVID-19

  • At least three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were at a White House event days before President Donald Trump, his wife, and a top aide tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Army Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the top Army and Air Force generals were at a Gold Star family event on Sunday, defense officials said.
  • The Pentagon said Friday that Milley and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who is currently overseas, have tested negative for the illness.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At least three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff attended an event at the White House on Sunday, days before President Donald Trump, his wife and a top aide tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley and the top Army and Air Force generals attended a Gold Star family event at the White House on Sunday, multiple defense officials told Military.com.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville took a COVID-19 test Friday, according to a defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He’s showing no signs of the illness caused by the coronavirus, the official said, but was tested as a precaution Friday morning after the president announced he has the virus.

Results are expected Friday.

Air Force Chief of Staff Charles “CQ” Brown also attended the Sunday event, said Brooke Brzozowske, an Air Force spokeswoman. Brown tested negative before the event, the official said, and again yesterday in preparation for upcoming scheduled meetings at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

That test also came back negative, Brzozowske said.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was also at the Gold Star families event, CNN reported Friday. Milley was at the Pentagon conducting his normal schedule, and is regularly tested for COVID-19, the outlet reported.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has not had any contact with the president or White House aides, said Cmdr. Nate Christensen, his spokesman. Gilday just returned to duty at the Pentagon this week after undergoing heart surgery.

Marine Corps officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether Commandant Gen. David Berger attended the event.

— This story is developing and will be updated.

— Oriana Pawlyk and Matthew Cox contributed to this story.

— Gina Harkins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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At least 22 dead in military plane crash in eastern Ukraine, Interior Ministry reports

At least 22 people have died in a military plane crash in Ukraine, the country’s interior ministry has confirmed.

Two other people are severely injured and four more are still unaccounted for, the ministry said in a statement.

The crash occurred at around 20:50 local time (19:50 CET) near the eastern city of Chuhuyiv, in the Kharkiv region, some two kilometres away from a military airport.

The 28 people on board the AN-26 plane were military pilots and cadets of the Kozhedub Air Force University. The ministry had initially said that 24 people were on the plane when it crashed.

Units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as emergency crews, were dispatched at the site with the area cordoned off by police.

Flames which had engulfed the plane were eventually extinguished shortly before 10 pm local time.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced in a Facebook post that a government commission had been tasked with investigating “all the circumstances and causes” of the crash.

He described the incident as “a terrible tragedy” and said he will visit the scene on Saturday.

The Antonov AN-26 is a twin-engined turboprop civilian and military aircraft manufactured near Kyiv between 1969 and 1986 when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union.

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22 killed in Ukraine military plane crash: interior ministry – News

At least two people injured and taken to hospital in a serious condition, and the search continues for others.

A military transport plane carrying 28 people crashed and burst into flames in north=eastern Ukraine on Friday evening, killing at least 22 people on board, officials said.

Rescue workers were on the scene. Air force pilots and cadets were on the plane, the interior ministry said.

At least two people were injured and taken to hospital in a serious condition, and the search continued for the others, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said.

The crash happened around 2 km (1.2 miles) from a military airport, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said in a statement.

“The bodies of 22 people were found, two people were injured and the search for four people continues,” it said.

The plane was on a training flight, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in statement, citing preliminary information.


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7 ‘discarded’ military votes for Trump found in Pennsylvania, campaign blames Democrats

The Trump campaign on Thursday accused the Democrats of “trying to steal the election” after seven military ballots cast in favor of the president were found “discarded” in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — despite no immediate allegations of any malfeasance.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie walking down the street


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“BREAKING: FBI finds military mail-in ballots discarded in Pennsylvania. 100% of them were cast for President Trump. Democrats are trying to steal the election,” Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, tweeted Thursday afternoon, linking to a press release from David Freed, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Freed said his office had begun “an inquiry into reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections.”

“At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded. Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time. Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot. All nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump,” the statement said.

Freed’s office put out a revised statement hours after the first saying the number of Trump ballots was actually seven.

“Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those 2 ballots are unknown,” the updated statement said.

Both statements were highly unusual as U.S. Attorneys typically do not publicly announce they’ve opened an inquiry. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to give further comment about the probe, except to say the general election ballots were improperly opened by county staff.

The second statement noted that Freed’s office had been investigating the case with the FBI since Monday at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

Salavantis is a Republican, and Trump won the county by almost 20 points in 2016. Salavantis was told about the find last week by the county’s elections director, the county solicitor said in a statement.

While the nature of the inquiry, including whether there’s a criminal component, is unclear, the Justice Department’s 2017 guidelines for “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses” says that, “Because the federal prosecutor’s function in the area of election fraud is not primarily preventative, any criminal investigation by the Department must be conducted in a way that minimizes the likelihood that the investigation itself may become a factor in the election.”

In the evening, DOJ released a letter Freed sent to the county board of elections, reporting his initial findings — including that at least part of the problem appeared to be bureaucratic.

“The FBI has recovered a number of documents relating to military ballots that had been improperly opened by your elections staff, and had the ballots removed and discarded, or removed and placed separately from the envelope containing confidential voter information and attestation,” the letter said.

It noted, “the appropriate method for processing received military ballots is to securely store the ballot, unopened” until Election Day,

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White House, Trump campaign push unusual DOJ announcement about 7 ‘discarded’ military votes

The Trump campaign on Thursday accused the Democrats of “trying to steal the election” after seven military ballots cast in favor of the president were found “discarded” in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — despite no immediate allegations of any malfeasance.

“BREAKING: FBI finds military mail-in ballots discarded in Pennsylvania. 100% of them were cast for President Trump. Democrats are trying to steal the election,” Matt Wolking, deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, tweeted Thursday afternoon, linking to a press release from David Freed, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Freed said his office had begun “an inquiry into reports of potential issues with a small number of mail-in ballots at the Luzerne County Board of Elections.”

“At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded. Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time. Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot. All nine ballots were cast for presidential candidate Donald Trump,” the statement said.

Freed’s office put out a revised statement hours after the first saying the number of Trump ballots was actually seven.

“Two of the discarded ballots had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI and the contents of those 2 ballots are unknown,” the updated statement said.

Both statements were highly unusual as U.S. Attorneys typically do not publicly announce they’ve opened an inquiry. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to give further comment about the probe, except to say the general election ballots were improperly opened by county staff.

The second statement noted that Freed’s office had been investigating the case with the FBI since Monday at the request of Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

Salavantis is a Republican, and Trump won the county by almost 20 points in 2016. Salavantis was told about the find last week by the county’s elections director, the county solicitor said in a statement.

While the nature of the inquiry, including whether there’s a criminal component, is unclear, the Justice Department’s 2017 guidelines for “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses” says that, “Because the federal prosecutor’s function in the area of election fraud is not primarily preventative, any criminal investigation by the Department must be conducted in a way that minimizes the likelihood that the investigation itself may become a factor in the election.”

In the evening, DOJ released a letter Freed sent to the county board of elections, reporting his initial findings — including that at least part of the problem appeared to be bureaucratic.

“The FBI has recovered a number of documents relating to military ballots that had been improperly opened by your elections staff, and had the ballots removed and discarded, or removed and placed separately from the envelope containing confidential voter information and attestation,” the letter said.

It noted, “the appropriate method for processing received military ballots is to securely store the ballot, unopened” until Election Day, but that some elections staffers said

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Bulletproof $350,000 SUV blends military looks with a lavish interior

  • Meet the Inkas Sentry Civilian, the bulletproof SUV that’s SWAT on the outside and upscale limo on the inside. 
  • The vehicle is a civilian-grade version of Inkas’ Sentry APC, an armored personnel carrier. 
  • The tough-looking SUV features a lavish interior complete with leather seats and an entertainment system. 
  • The Sentry Civilian starts at $350,000 and is made to order. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Lots of VIPs cruise around in low-key armored vehicles that are nearly indistinguishable from an ordinary Cadillac, Lincoln, or Mercedes-Benz. But others prefer to throw modesty out the window and hit the streets in something a bit flashier. 

That’s where Canadian firm Inkas comes in. The Toronto-based company sells all manner of discreet bullet-resistant cars, but also offers the Sentry Civilian — a military-style, ultra-high-end SUV that puts any Hummer, Jeep, or G-Wagen to shame. 

The Sentry Civilian boasts a private jet-like cabin complete with leather captain’s chairs, an entertainment system, and a long list of optional luxury features. But you’d never know that looking at the vehicle’s exterior — on the outside, the SUV gets bullet-resistant glass, run-flat tires, and an armored passenger compartment. 

So, one could call the truck inconspicuous, in its own weird way. 

Keep scrolling to take a tour of the Inkas Sentry Civilian.

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Military Police Considered Using Heat Ray on White House Protesters, Whistle-Blower Says

Top administration officials have defended the response to the protests, arguing that law enforcement officers in the square in the days leading up to the clash had been met with violence from bad actors. Testifying before Congress in July, Gregory T. Monahan, the Park Police’s acting chief, said that his officers acted with “tremendous restraint.”

Top Republican lawmakers, as well as Attorney General William P. Barr, have previously sought to discredit Major DeMarco, noting that he ran as a Democratic House candidate in 2018.

Major DeMarco, who also testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources as part of the panel’s investigation into the clash, offered a starkly different picture, telling lawmakers that the police used “excessive” force on protesters.

The heat ray that officials had sought was developed with the intent of repelling individuals without injury. But military news releases describe the technology as causing an “unbearable heating sensation,” and a system deployed to Afghanistan with the Air Force in 2010 ultimately was never used and was withdrawn, in part, some speculated, because of public opposition.

In a meeting days before the 2018 midterm elections, Customs and Border Protection officials suggested using the device on migrants at the southwestern border, but the idea shocked attendees, and Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, angrily dismissed the idea outright.

Major DeMarco, in his written testimony, also told lawmakers that military officials had sought out powerful sound cannons known as Long Range Acoustic Devices, which can be used to loudly issue commands to crowds but can also serve as a deterrent. A federal judge in New York ruled in 2017 that the sound the cannons emit could be considered a form of force, after the police used such a device to emit a series of piercing beeps directed at protesters who later said they had developed ringing in their ears and dizziness because of the noise.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and John Ismay contributed reporting.

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