Jailed marine Stuart Scheller has demanded the Trumps stop helping in his case, saying he would “rather sit in jail” than receive help from the former president.
Lt Col Scheller was thrown in a military prison without charge after defying orders to stop posting on social media, instead continuing to openly criticise the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal of US troops, citizens and allies from Afghanistan, which left 13 Americans dead.
But while Lt Col Scheller does not want any association with the Trump family, supporters of Donald Trump have helped raise more than $1.82m for Mr Scheller, who sought to distance himself from the support of Mr Trump and his family over the weekend.
“President Trump. I was told by everyone to kiss the ring because of your following and power. I refuse. While I respect your foreign policy positions, I hate how you divided the country. I don’t need or want your help,” Mr Scheller wrote on Facebook on the weekend.
Mr Scheller was taken into custody on Monday and remains in “pretrial confinement” at Camp Lejeune NC until at least next week as the Marine Corps considers charges for violating a “gag order”.
Mr Scheller rose to national prominence after publicly criticising the Afghanistan withdrawal, and calling on his supporters to follow him to “bring the whole f*cking system down”.
He was fired on 27 August but continued to call for accountability from the US military’s leadership, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, and announced his intentions to charge the head of US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie Jr, with “dereliction of duty”.
Mr Scheller’s support since going public in August has only increased since he was fired in August and taken into custody on 27 September.
More than two dozen Congressmembers formally wrote to the US Marine Corps Commander, General Berger, to release Mr Scheller from custody. It was signed by Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, and Thomas Massie, among others.
Mr Trump himself put out a press release pointing to a news story about Mr Scheller, and Donald Trump Jr tweeted that it was a “disgrace” he was fired for seeking accountability for deadly mistakes while “woke generals” could troll and pontificate about “white rage”.
Mr Scheller seemingly didn’t appreciate the Trump family’s support, saying on Facebook that time has run out on the former president’s generation.
“Tell your son to stop tweeting about me. Your whole family knows nothing about US or our sacrifices. I could never work with you. I’d rather sit in jail and be released with a dishonourable than make compromises in my beliefs,” he wrote.
Despite Mr Scheller’s disdain for Mr Trump as a leader, the former president’s supporters have continued to donate to his cause. One donor who wrote on the fundraising page suggested Mr Scheller was wrong to say the former president divided the country.
“Our country is divided because half of its citizens believe completely different from the other half, not because of President Trump. He just gave us the courage to speak out,” wrote Britt. “With that being said I totally 100% support and agree with what you did.”
After the “strong reaction” this his anti-Trump Facebook poset, Mr Scheller clarified his opinion the next day, saying he’s not asking MAGA supporters to agree with his perspective.
“No, President Trump didn’t divide the country. But President Trump, in my humble opinion, is incapable of bringing us back together,” he wrote.
“Did he expose the corruption in the DOJ, media, and other places … yes. Was he the right person to expose the corruption at that time … maybe. Is he honest, accountable, and full of integrity … no.”
His parents Cathy and Stuart Scheller Snr this week appeared on Fox News programs with Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to drum up support for their son and fundraise for his legal battle.
“We’re asking for people to support his family by going to Pipe Hitters Foundation.org,” Ms Scheller said. “His family desperately needs funding to live.”
Mr Scheller Snr, meanwhile, added that his son would not be in prison today if Mr Trump was still president.
“We would not have had the botched exit under President Trump, in my opinion, and so I don’t think Stu would have done what he did, and if we would have been at this point, President Trump would have stepped in if generals were out of hand.”
Much of the $1.8 million raised so far has come from small donors, with the average amount contributed about $78 per person.
Among those was $52.23 from Joseph Soto, who said it was a travesty to imprison a true hero, and that he looked forward to seeing Mr Scheller “on the Trump ticket soon!”
Jane Wilcox donated $104.15 and envisioned Mr Trump putting a Medal of Honour around Mr Scheller’s next “in the not-to-distant future”.
Andre Williams donated $52.23, saying Mr Scheller had stood in the way of the Democrat’s plan to destroy America, just as Mr Trump had.
Tonya Eastman donated $104.15, saying Mr Trump would help get Mr Scheller’s pension back.
Shari Hastings donated $104.15 and said “THIS WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING IF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP HADN’T BEEN ROBBED OF THE LAST ELECTION”.