The military branch publicly corrected The Hill and a Washington Post reporter after they raised “ethics” questions over a video posted by President Donald Trump that showed the helicopter with the Marine Corps’ Helicopter Squadron One green and white design arriving at a rally last week at The Villages, Fla.
“President Trump’s reelection campaign appeared to use a Marine Corps helicopter to hover over a large crowd of cheering supporters, raising questions about the ethics of using the military aircraft for such purposes,” The Hill reported in an article Wednesday headlined, “Trump campaign event use of Marine Corps helicopter raises ethics questions.”
Washington Post national security correspondent Greg Miller also raised criticism, wondering in a tweet if this was a “new way” for the president to spread the coronavirus to his supporters. Trump shared the video in a split screen tweet that he posted Wednesday showing his rally crowd contrasted with the small gathering greeting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at a smaller campaign event.
Is Marine One really swooping over rally crowds to whip up supporters of the president?
(Or is this a new way to disperse covid droplets?) https://t.co/hvKbtIl1VZ
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) October 28, 2020
The Hill noted that the helicopter unit is based out of Quantico, Va., and regularly transports Trump and other senior officials.
“It was not clear from the video if the helicopter was landing or hovered for a period of time before moving on,” reporter Ellen Mitchell wrote, adding:
The video raises questions about the ethics of the Pentagon’s role in the event.
Department of Defense (DOD) policy prohibits military members from participating in campaign activities such as volunteering for a candidate, attending a rally or appearing in materials while in uniform, though they are allowed to do so off duty.
CBS News’ Mark Knoller also claimed Marine One hovered over rally-goers.
Marine One hovers over crowd at The Villages in Florida coming in for landing at first of two rallies today in this must-win state. This is Pres Trump’s 51st visit to Florida, his most frequent destination, and his 5th rally in FL this year. pic.twitter.com/eJwNfuXjCF
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) October 23, 2020
But Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joseph Butterfield made it clear that the helicopter did not “fly over” nor “hover” over the crowd in Florida as it transported Trump from the Ocala International Airport near the event.
“The entire flight was conducted in accordance with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps regulations, operating procedures, and safety protocols,” Butterfield said. “Marine One landed a safe distance from the crowd, which the camera angle in the video . . . does not appear to fully capture.”
“In accordance with U.S. Navy regulations, no review or investigation is necessary,” he added.
The official U.S. Marines Twitter account responded to The Hill’s report and to the Post’s reporter.
The flight did not fly over (or hover over) the assembled crowd. The entire flight was conducted in accordance with @USNavy and Marine Corps regulations, operating procedures and safety protocols. Marine One landed a safe distance from the crowd.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) October 29, 2020
Local footage also captured a different angle of the helicopter’s arrival as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” played.
Twitter users reacted with more video footage and appreciation for the U.S. Marines.
Props to the Helo pilots of HMX1. Zero Fail. 🇺🇸
— G8tekeeper (@G8tekeeper) October 29, 2020
Never a doubt in my mind. The Marines and Sailors of the HMX1 are top notch. It’s sad that the media even asked these ridiculous questions.
— Brian Johnson (@EchoSevenJ) October 29, 2020
Liberals claim to love the military until they see the Commander in Chief arrive on Marine One.
— Culo Diablo (@CuloDiablo) October 29, 2020
Exactly. Here’s another angle.https://t.co/RVNujaGiVc
— Rory M. arcus 🦇🔔🦅 (@Rory_Marcus_) October 29, 2020
@gregpmiller knew that …he just wanted RT’s and fawning. Thank you for your service!
— This bit left Blank (@ThirskyQM) October 30, 2020
.@gregpmiller Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? The angle doesn’t show the safe distance, so you are going to make shit up? This is why @washingtonpost is losing subscribers every day. @USMC would never compromise laws and regulations for a stunt like you suggested.
— Cuea Non (@NonCuea) October 29, 2020
Thanks for your service and the haters can screw off.
— Trish (@PatriotTrish on Parler) (@thestorm2018) October 29, 2020