Marine Corps decided not to punish Marine who spoke at Trump rally: report

"I am the guy that pulled the baby over the wall, and it's definitely probably one of the greatest things I've done in my entire life," the Marine said at the Trump rally.


After completing an investigation, the US Marine Corps decided not to punish Lance Cpl. Hunter Clark who was invited by former President Donald Trump to speak on stage at a "Save America" rally in Perry, Georgia, on Sept. 25, after he reportedly helped rescue a baby in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

"I am the guy that pulled the baby over the wall, and it's definitely probably one of the greatest things I've done in my entire life," Clark said at the podium before the massive audience of Trump supporters. "I just want to thank all the support from all y'all. It really means a lot and I'm glad to be home now."

Clark then shook Trump's hand and walked offstage to continual shouts of "USA! USA! USA!" from the numerous conservative rally attendees.

It was a reference to a viral Aug. 19 video showing an officer pulling a baby over a wall near Kabul's airport during the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Clark was deployed to Kabul with the 24th Marine Regiment as part of 6,000 service members sent to help evacuate diplomats, aid workers, and US citizens.

It was soon revealed that the Marine Corps opened an investigation after the rally and before concluding days later that Clark would not be punished.

On Sept. 30, the Marine Corps said it was investigating whether Clark broke Department of Defense guidelines that forbade US service members from speaking "before a partisan political gathering." But on Oct. 6, two senior Marine Corps commanders signed off on an internal investigation into Clark that concluded that the Marine's conduct did not violate the guidelines, per the documents obtained.

The information was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, according to internal Marine communications reviewed by Business Insider.

"While [Clark] identified himself at the prompting of former President Trump, [and] in doing so did speak at a political event, he did not do so in a manner which violates the applicable references," said the report on Clark's actions, elaborated by Marine Col. Eric Cloutier, the commanding officer of the 24th Marine regiment. "I do not believe that a reasonable person would consider [Clark's] words to constitute speech at a political event," the colonel concluded.

The communications showed that Clark told senior officers that he left Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to spend the weekend in question at home.

Clark said he was taken to the event by his mother Peggy Clark to meet some "important" people. He maintained that he had no idea where he was going at the time and made no mention of whom he was slated to meet when he called his platoon sergeant on Sept. 24 to relay details. Clark's platoon sergeant said to shave, get a fresh haircut, and conduct himself as a Marine should. Clark also told investigators he didn't know he was going to be called on stage and didn't want to be disrespectful to Trump by declining the speech invitation, the documents said.

Peggy Clark later clarified to CNN that the Marine was standing by the officer who carried the infant to safety and was handed the baby afterwards.

GOP Rep. Michael Waltz, a former Green Beret, supported Clark's actions and asked the Marine Corps in an Oct. 7 letter to drop its investigation.

In the letter, Waltz said the Marine Corps should consider if "the military is unevenly applying justice to service members who hold conservative beliefs."


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