Marine Corps: Marines at naturalization ceremony aired at GOP convention were on official duty

Source: The Hill | August 26, 2020 | Rebecca Kheel

The two Marines who appeared in a video that aired Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention were on official duty at the time the footage was filmed, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

At issue is a video of a naturalization ceremony that President Trump presided over that was aired during Tuesday night’s convention programming. The beginning of the video shows two active-duty Marines in uniform opening the door for Trump as he walks into the room.

“The Marines in the footage of the ceremony at the White House were at their assigned place of duty,” the Marine Corps said in a brief statement Wednesday. “Their official duty is to assist the president in office; those duties include opening doors for the president.”

The service directed any further questions to the White House, which said the ceremony was an official White House event.

“The president held a naturalization ceremony and pardoned an individual which were official White House events,” a White House official said in a statement. “The White House publicized the content of both events on a public website [Tuesday] afternoon, and the campaign decided to use the publically available content for campaign purposes. There was no violation of law.” 

Airing the naturalization ceremony at a political convention was highly unusual and immediately led to accusations that officials violated the Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from participating in partisan political activities. Earlier in the evening, the convention aired footage of Trump granting a pardon, which also elicited accusations of Hatch Act violations.

The inclusion of the Marines at the beginning of the naturalization ceremony video also led to questions over whether the video violated Pentagon policy barring troops from engaging in political activities while in uniform.

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