The fallout continues from President Joe Biden's controversial speech in Philadelphia last week in which he condemned "MAGA Republicans" as a threat to the republic.
On Thursday, the House Republicans informed the Department of Defense they were "gravely concerned" about President Biden's usage of the Marine Corps in the speech, saying the two Marines standing behind the president were "political props."
In the letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin — which was signed by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif. — the Republican lawmakers wrote: "We are gravely concerned that throughout the entirety of this partisan, politically charged, and divisive address to the nation, two United States Marines were visibly present flanking the President in the background."
The letter continued: "The President's use of active-duty Marines as political props undermines the apolitical nature of our servicemembers and erodes trust in our military."
Also, the House Republicans asked Austin to respond to three particular questions, regarding the Pentagon's possible coordination with the White House.
Among the questions:
- Did the Pentagon know the contents of Biden's speech before his appearance in Philadelphia?
- Did the DOD know two active-duty service members would be involved in the TV presentation?
- And if so, what guidance was given to the White House regarding their participation in the event?
"You've expressed your concern about politicization of the military and have insisted the military will not become a political instrument under your watch. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened with the participation of the Marines at this political event," the lawmakers wrote.
The Pentagon reportedly referred questions on the use of the Marines to the Biden administration.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended Biden's usage of the Marines last week, saying it was done out of respect for the Marines and their role in defending democracy.
"It is not abnormal. It is actually normal for presidents from either side of the aisle to give speeches in front of members of the military," said Jean-Pierre. "It is not an unusual sight or is not an unusual event to have happen."
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