Barely 100 days into his presidency, Trump already released a campaign ad for his 2020 re-election bid. The ad, however, was quickly taken down for violating federal law.
Federal law and Defense Department rules prohibit active-duty U.S. service members from engaging in political advocacy. Trump’s 30-second ad features the President shaking hands with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, his National Security Advisor and an active U.S. military member. McMaster is wearing his Army uniform in the clip.
Trump’s campaign removed the ad and immediately replaced it with a new version that did not include McMaster.
Per The Daily Beast:
The initial version of the ad “seems to violate [the] intent of military policy against members engaging in partisan political activity,” according to former Federal Election Commission general counsel Larry Noble.
Noble also runs the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a watchdog group. Brendan Fischer, CLC’s director of federal programs, added that Pentagon rules “appear to prohibit McMaster from appearing in Trump’s campaign ad [in uniform], assuming he is still on active duty.”
Pentagon rules issued in 2005 prohibit the wearing of a military uniform “during or in connection with furthering political activities…when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity…may be drawn.”
Further guidance in 2008 instructed active-duty servicemembers to “refrain from participating in any political activity while in military uniform.”
While Barack Obama did not declare his candidacy for re-election until two years into his term, Trump’s campaign did so within hours of his inauguration. With few, if any, notable achievements in his first 100 days as President, Trump would be better served focusing on governing the country than worrying about a re-election bid more than three years away.
That being said, if Trump’s trajectory continues in its current direction, it won’t matter how many illegal ads the Trump campaign airs come the next election.
Watch the re-listed ad below: