On Saturday, former President Donald Trump held a rally in Perry, Georgia, where he stopped just short of announcing a 2024 run, was highly critical of the Biden administration especially on the issue of Afghanistan, and endorsed the candidacies of Georgia Republicans like former NFL great Herschel Walker, who is running in hopes of being able to challenge Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock in 2022.
During the rally, Trump invited Lance Cpl. Hunter Clark, one of the Marines reportedly involved in rescuing a baby over a wall at Kabul airport in Afghanistan last month, onto the stage for the crowd to show their appreciation for his service. While he was on the stage, Trump asked him to say a few words. Clark is a native Georgian. For those who missed the moment, watch below:
— Steven Cheung (@CaliforniaPanda) September 26, 2021
In an interesting development, Task and Purpose reports that Clark is now under investigation by the Dept. of Defense over his attendance at the rally — specifically as it relates to him speaking on stage next to Trump:
Now Clark’s command is looking into whether he violated the military’s ban on active-duty troops engaging in partisan political activity.
“The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has initiated a command investigation regarding LCpl Hunter Clark’s attendance at the event last weekend to determine if any DoD policies were violated,” Cochran said. “Any details pertaining to this incident are not releasable while the investigation is being conducted.”
Cochran did not specify what policies that Clark may have violated, but the Defense Department does not allow active-duty troops to “speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.”
However, Clark was not in uniform when he appeared with Trump. Nor did he campaign for a political candidate or suggest that service members follow a political party.
Indeed. The video makes clear that in Clark’s brief remarks he talked about his military service and how he was glad to be home. He said nothing beyond that.
Outside of being flabbergasted to find out that Clark was being investigated by the DoD, something else that stuck out to me from the story is that Task and Purpose noted that the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit said it wasn’t Clark who lifted the baby in the August 19th video clip below that has been widely shared:
A baby was handed over a wall at Kabul’s airport to a U.S. Marine this week after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital. A spokesperson for the Marine Corps said the child was taken to a medical treatment facility on site and has been reunited with their father. pic.twitter.com/e5KTBk3gSx
— News 6 WKMG (@news6wkmg) August 20, 2021
They also said they couldn’t confirm if he was part of the group of Marines in that particular instance, but also pointed out there were numerous other instances of babies being rescued over walls by U.S. service members, presumably hinting that perhaps Clark could have been involved in one of those rescues.
In any event, I realize that exceptions are not supposed to be made to military rules but in my view what the DoD is doing here is over the top and shouldn’t be happening. Considering how botched the Afghanistan withdrawal was and how we lost 13 members of the U.S. military in the process, we should not only be thankful our men and women are home on American soil, but I think every single one of them more than earned the right to engage in the type of activity Clark did Saturday.
After all, he didn’t endorse anyone and merely promoted his military service. What’s wrong with that?