A tweet posted Thursday afternoon by President Donald Trump announcing his campaign stop in a western Pennsylvania city was retweeted by U.S. Northern Command’s official Twitter page, then deleted minutes later.
Before addressing supporters, Trump tweeted, “I’m going to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the home of the late, great Arnold Palmer — There was nobody like him. I got to know Arnold well, played golf with him, and miss him. See you tonight in Latrobe!”
The retweet was on the official Twitter page of Northern Command for several minutes before it was removed. Headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Northern Command was created in 2002 after 9/11 to defend the American homeland and coordinate DoD support for civilian disaster response efforts.
“On Sept. 3, a tweet was inadvertently retweeted on the official U.S. Northern Command Twitter account by one of the account's administrators. The retweet was immediately deleted,” Northern Command spokeswoman Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze said.
“(Northern Command), as a military organization, is apolitical and nonpartisan. I apologize for the inappropriate retweet. It was an honest mistake by a new staff member,” Kunze said.
The Defense Department allows military members on active duty to express their personal opinions on political candidates, donate to campaigns, sign petitions to place a candidate’s name on a ballot and attend political events as spectators.
Members on active duty may not participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause; and may not participate in other partisan activities like soliciting or engaging in partisan fundraisers, sponsoring partisan clubs, marching or riding in partisan parades, or speaking at partisan gatherings. All military members are also prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign acts.
The apparent Twitter gaffe came during a summer marked by rising political tensions, protests across the country and debate about the military’s role in politics.
The Defense Department’s two most senior officials came under fire in June after they were photographed walking with Trump from the White House to a nearby church for a photo op after the president threatened military action against protesters.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were among senior administration officials who walked with Trump from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington on June 1.
Milley was in his combat fatigues.
Milley apologized, saying members of the armed forces “must hold dear the principal of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic. And this is not easy. It takes time, and work and effort, but it may be the most important thing each and every one of us does every single day.”