Trump is under fire for using the Marine Band at an ostensibly non-political event that devolved into campaigning
President Donald Trump with supporters at an event called "Peaceful Protest for Law and Order" on October 10, 2020 at the White House. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images
President Donald Trump has been criticized for using the White House and the Navy Band for an event with all the hallmarks of a political rally, according to The Washington Post.
The President gave a speech at the "Peace Protest for Law and Order," an event organized by the White House.
Conventionally, neither the White House itself nor the military may be used in election campaign events.
At the event, Trump immediately urged the crowd to "forget these people [Democrats]" - one of several explicit references to the election.
MP Don Beyer (D) said the event violated the Hatch Act, which prevents federal employees from using their positions in political campaigns.
A White House spokesman told The Post that the event was not against the law.
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President Donald Trump has been criticized for using the U.S. Marine Band at an event in the White House that was very similar to a political rally on Saturday, according to The Washington Post.
At his first public event since his COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump spoke to the crowd on Saturday at the "Peaceful Protest for Law and Order" from the south portico balcony of the White House.
According to The Post, the Marine Band played show songs such as "America" from "West Side Story" for incoming supporters. Their involvement has been criticized by a Democratic legislature and an expert on the military.
The event was supposedly impartial, but Trump addressed electoral politics from the start. "We have to let these people fall into oblivion," he said in his opening speech.
The US Marine Band - called "The President's Own" - is typically used when the president is performing his state duties.
But Alice Hunt Friend, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Post that the band's use was a "major violation" of the norms set between the military and politics.
"Americans who see uniformed military personnel in partisan roles can assume that the military has a partisan identity," said a friend.
"Presidents who stand for re-election must always take special care that their military aides are not involved in their campaign activities."
If the White House uses the US military on a partisan event, it risks breaking the Hatch Act. The law prohibits federal employees from using their positions for political activities and prohibits the president - who is otherwise exempt from the law - from coercing them.
The use of the White House for political campaign events has also been criticized as a violation of the law.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told Business Insider, "The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in accordance with the Hatch Act."
Representative Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, criticized the use of the White House in a tweet, saying, "As Trump uses the White House again for a campaign speech, undoubtedly with the illegal use of taxpayers' money and money, the Republican National Convention will continue to obey Hatch Act violations investigated. "
Trump's aides reportedly enjoyed the violation of these norms several times, including Trump's use of the White House for his speech at the Republican National Convention in August.
At Saturday's Peaceful Protest for Law and Order event, Trump praised law enforcement and highlighted the impact widespread protests had on black and ethnic minority communities.
Much of his speech also featured references to the elections and recent television debates. He encouraged the crowd to vote against his political opponent, Joe Biden.
"Sleepy Joe Biden betrayed black and Latin American Americans," he said of widespread boos. "If you think he can rule this country, you are wrong."
He later added, "When the left comes to power they will launch a nationwide crusade against law enforcement."
Sometimes the chant "Four more years!" broke out of the crowd.
The event was organized by the Blexit Foundation, a conservative movement founded by right-wing black activist Candace Owens. Blexit, a play about Brexit, the name given to Britain's unexpected decision to leave the European Union, encourages blacks and ethnic minorities to give up support for the left and pursue conservative politics.
According to ABC News, attendees at the event should wear "Blexit" t-shirts. Trump noted his address on the shirts and said he wished he could wear one in place of what he was wearing.
Business Insider has requested comment from the Trump campaign and the U.S. Marine Band but did not receive an immediate response.
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