We must hold them accountable

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8 mins read

Since announcing my run to represent the residents in Utah’s 2nd congressional district, there have been certain days—and paramount issues—that reinforce why I am seeking your support to flip the district.
 
Recent reporting about Donald Trump’s disparagement of military service members and our war dead is not only entirely believable, but in line with his numerous prior statements. His statements also hit home personally. My dad, a former sergeant, and two uncles served in Vietnam. One of them (the popular former Democratic Beaver County commissioner, Chad Johnson) was almost killed by shrapnel and a sucking chest wound. A grandfather, who owned the town furniture store on Milford’s Main Street, served in WWII. And my great uncle, who went by his middle name Harold, survived the Battle of the Bulge—only to die after war, likely a suicide and suffering from alcoholism. He is buried in a very remote part of CD2 in the un-Arlington, sagebrush-filled cemetery in Pinto, Utah, where the most regular visitors are jackrabbits, rattlesnakes, and ravens.

Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson

While traveling to Wayne, Garfield, Iron, and Beaver counties last week, local reporters sought my views on the matter. I went on the record right away in the Deseret News. After calling out my Republican opponent on Twitter (who was silent for a long time), I was blunt:

“Stewart/Trump need to be fired Nov. 3. Our nation and state can then begin to heal and move forward.” 

I also provided the well-regarded reporter some important context—my seven consecutive years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with the State Department showed me “how red the sacrifice has been for our troops.” I further said that Trump’s pattern of disparaging veterans, including Sen. John McCain, was “unconscionable” from a commander-in-chief and that “Republicans should have the moral courage to speak out against this track record. Silence equals complicity.”

I want to share with you now some more context, which I usually do not discuss in public or on the campaign trail. After I resigned from the State Department, now-retired Marine Lieutenant-General Larry Nicholson and I would often visit Bethesda Naval Hospital, aka Walter Reed. Together we checked on wounded Marines, most of whom had been under his direct command in Helmand Province—the most dangerous part of the country. Some WIA (wounded in action) we knew personally, including a Marine captain who had survived a teenage suicide bomber attack.
 
In room after room, we witnessed the extensive human cost of warfare: double, triple amputees and others disfigured and injured in lasting ways. We even visited one badly wounded Marine who was recovering in the exact same room that Larry had been sent to years earlier after almost being killed himself in Fallujah.

Visiting with family members at Bethesda, we saw parents and spouses and kids sleeping on couches, some curled up on floors. I recall one young wife of an even younger wounded Marine corporal carrying a Big Gulp throughout the hospital complex—and the oversized cup was not full of Sprite. In another room, we spoke with a farming family from cornfield country in the Midwest whose son lay on the bed, dying. The Marine helicopter pilot had crashed into Afghanistan’s deserts and was now on life support.

Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson at Bethesda
Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson at Bethesda

For Chris Stewart to deny the reports, as outlined in this thorough article in The Atlantic, as if Donald Trump is not capable of uttering such unpresidential words let alone thoughts, is the starkest reminder yet of why all of us are working hard to relieve Stewart—and Trump—of their duties this Nov. 3rd.
 
If a Democratic president behaved even half as disrespectfully as Trump has towards our military, I would help lead a bipartisan insurrection in Congress. Party should never come above or before country.
 
For more context here is an NPR Saturday Edition interview with me and Brad Palmer, the father of LCpl Nick Palmer, of Leadville, Colorado, who was killed in Fallujah at age 19. I hope you will listen to this Colorado family’s story at this time of deep national division. It is a powerful reminder of what’s at stake and what’s worth fighting for every day until polls close.

Thank you for your support. Together we must hold Chris Stewart and Donald Trump accountable at a time when to do otherwise would be inexcusable—and unconscionable.

Kael Weston
kael@westonforcongress.com


This Week: Wednesday, September 9th

Policy Lunch with Kael Weston

Kael invites you to participate in a series of weekly lunchtime conversations with him about urgent policy issues that require serious leadership and personally impact the people who live and work in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

When you RSVP, you will receive login information and a method for submitting your questions prior to these virtual events.

Policy Lunch with Kael Weston: Foreign Affairs
Wednesday, September 9, 12:30 pm

Russian bounties and election interference, U.S. troop withdrawals, China. International cooperation and standing is at an all-time low as the current administration’s policies isolate the country and alienate allies. Kael is the rare political candidate with over a decade of direct foreign policy and national security experience, a trained diplomat who spent seven years in a combat zone. Kael’s perspective is unique as are his views on where we go from here and what needs to be done post November 3rd.

Join Kael for the fourth in the series of Policy Lunches, focusing this time on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, September 9th, at 12:30 pm, for a lively, one-hour discussion of the issues.

Wednesday, August 12 – Healthcare/COVID – Video available
Wednesday, August 19 – Education 
Thursday, September 3 – Public Lands
Wednesday, September 9 – Foreign Affairs – NEXT EVENT 
Wednesday, September 16 – Civil Rights 
Wednesday, September 23 – Jobs & the Economy
Wednesday, October 7 – Accountability & Ethics in Government


This campaign is only possible through donations. Thank you for your support.

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, the total amount an individual can contribute to a candidate for the general election is $2,800.


Weston 2020
PO Box 522288
Salt Lake City, UT 84152


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A native Utahn, Kael Weston served for over a decade in the U.S. State Department, including seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. During his government career, specific assignments included: U.S. representative on the UN Security Council’s Al Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Committee in New York; Iraq team, Political Section, U.S. Mission to the United Nations; State Department Political Adviser to a dozen Marine commanding generals, including during and after the biggest battle of the Iraq War (Fallujah, 2004-2007). In this role, he and Marine leaders were responsible for rebuilding the city’s infrastructure, facilitating the return of hundreds of thousands of Fallujans back into the city, establishing a new city council despite numerous assassinations of local politicians, and working closely with Iraqi governors in Ramadi and central Iraqi government representatives in Baghdad. Several nation-wide elections and a constitutional referendum were held across Iraq during this time.

In eastern Afghanistan’s Khost Province, Kael helped prioritize over $50 million dollars in U.S. reconstruction funds and worked to reintegrate former Taliban fighters in coordination with U.S. military leaders and Khost’s Afghan governor. He also met with a group of former Guantanamo Prison detainees and helped lead U.S. government political engagement with Afghan tribal and religious leaders. In Helmand Province, he worked directly with a Marine commanding general during the 2008-2009 U.S. troop surge that doubled Marine forces in the area from just under 11,000 to almost 20,000.

Kael is the author of the book, The Mirror Test (Knopf, 2016) a New York Times Editors’ Choice (NYT Book Review) and Military Times’ Best Book of the Year. He has taught at the college level in Utah and in Quantico, Virginia, at Marine Corps University, as well as leading seminars at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Kael writes monthly for the Salt Lake Tribune and has contributed to NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Daily Beast, and other publications.

For Kael Weston’s multi-year service in Fallujah, Iraq, the State Department awarded him the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism.

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