Fallout Continues Over Gold Star Dad’s Arrest at Biden’s State of the Union Address

Alice Giordano
By Alice Giordano
March 10, 2024Congress
Fallout Continues Over Gold Star Dad’s Arrest at Biden’s State of the Union Address
A protestor, identified as Steve Nikoui, the father of the late Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, shouts at President Joe Biden as he delivers his third State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 7, 2024. (Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Fallout continues over the arrest of the father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan during President Joe Biden’s state of the union address, with now even a Democratic Congressman joining the criticism.

Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, who recently ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential party nomination and endorsed President Biden, posted on X that being the son of a fallen veteran himself, he sympathized with Steven Nikoui, father of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui.

He also said it was hypocritical for the Gold Star father to be arrested.

“No one should interrupt a State of the Union Address, but if Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn’t arrested for her outbursts, should he,” Mr. Phillips said in a March 8 post

Ms. Greene (R-Ga.) has heckled President Biden during past SOTU addresses. This year, she shouted “say her name” and  “it’s about Laken Riley”—the 22-year old Georgia college student murdered by a 26-year Venezuelan living illegally in the United States. 

Following Ms. Greene’s comments, Mr. Nikoui cried out “Marines” and “Remember Abbey Gate” in reference to the gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport Kabul where his son, 11 other U.S. Marines, a U.S. Army soldier, and U.S Navy sailor were killed on Aug. 26, 2021.

They were killed when an Afghanistan engineering student who had joined an ISIS terrorist group detonated a bomb in a suicide mission that also killed more than 200 civilians.

Blame for their deaths has been placed on President Biden for launching an unexpected and rushed evacuation of U.S. military forces and civilians.

 In 2022, the tragedy became the subject of an HBO documentary entitled “Escape From Kabul.” 

A trailer for the documentary, also available on MAX, features accounts by several U.S. service men of the unexpected chaos they experienced and their shock when being told they were working with the Taliban, which indicated that their mission was to not let anyone leave the country.

“It is a situation on the ground like I’ver experienced before in any of my deployments,” said one U.S. Marine.

Mr. Nikoui, who has publicly blamed President Biden for his son’s death in the past, was removed from the gallery in handcuffs. 

In response to Mr. Phillip’s comments, some—including those with a “NeverTrump” hashtag—posted that Mr. Nikoui should have been escorted out of the building and released. 

Several commented that if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t get arrested for ripping up President Trump’s 2020 state of the union address speech in dramatic fashion while she was still at the podium, then Mr. Nikoui shouldn’t have.

According to Congressman Brian Mast (R-Fla.), who had invited Mr. Nikoui as his guest to President Biden’s address, the Gold Star father was arrested by Capitol Police on a misdemeanor charge for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.”

Under District of Columbia laws, the charge carries a fine and up to 90 days in prison.

The controversy is being tracked by several military media outlets. In a March 8 article, Military Times highlighted Mr. Mast’s charge that the death of the 13 service members were a result of President Biden’s “incompetence.”

Mr. Mast, a veteran himself, lost both his legs in 2010 while being assigned to clear a road in Afghanistan of any explosives.

“So much for the right to petition our government for the redress of grievances,” the Army veteran posted.

Of the 1,400 responses to his comments, most were in support of Mr. Nikoui, but several also attacked him and Mr. Mast.

One disagreement came from Fred Guttenberg, father of 14-year old Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018.

“Hey Brian, during final Trump STU, I yelled only once, ‘What about victims of gun violence like my daughter?’ I don’t recall your concern then for my arrest. I remember when you actually acted with decency towards me after the shooting. Sadly, you are pathetically lost now,” Mr. Guttenberg posted.

Biden’s Address

During his State of the Union address, President Biden called for tougher gun restrictions. He talked about the tragedy of the shooting in Uvalde, Florida, that took the life of 19 children and two teachers.

Some of the deaths were blamed on a decision by police to stand down during the active shooting inside the Robb Elementary  School on May 24, 2022. 

He also talked about the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the many lives lost in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“I know the last five months have been gut-wrenching for so many people, for the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, and so many here in America,” President Biden said. 

He made no mention of service members killed and did not make mention of Ms. Riley or any of the many other Americans brutally murdered by immigrants in the country illegally until Ms. Greene’s outburst.  

In addition to Ms. Riley, 20-year old Kayla Hamilton of Aberdeen, Maryland, was raped and murdered by a member of the MS-13 gang living illegally in the United States. He was placed in housing where Ms. Hamilton was living. Her mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government.

When President Biden did recognize the murder of Ms. Riley, he vocally misspoke her first name, calling Laken “Lincoln.”

Other critics of Mr. Nikoui posted on X that he should have taken his grievances up privately with his Congressman.

In a statement following the controversy, Capitol Police issued a statement that they only arrested Mr. Nikoui because he ignored repeated requests to stop yelling out at President Biden. 

Since the incident, several other Gold Star parents have spoken out in support of Mr. Nikoui. 

In a Facebook post, Mark Schmitz, whose son U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was also killed in the Abbey Gate bombing, called Mr. Nikoui “a hero for speaking out.” 

“Until you have walked even one step in his/our shoes, you have absolutely no room to speak ill of his decision to call Biden out. I pray for this country,” Mr. Schmitz posted.

Mr. Schmitz also cited civilian American workers and Afghans maimed in the bomb attack.

“The genius in what Steve said was absolutely perfect. ‘ABBEY GATE’! Those two words not only encompass our beloved 13 we lost, but the 45 US personnel catastrophically injured and the 170 deceased Afghans. Say their names!!!” he wrote.

He also defended the capitol police who arrested Mr. Nikoui, saying they were just doing their job and that they treated “Steve w/ white gloves.”

In all, seven Goldstar families were in attendance during President Biden’s address.

Christy Shamblin, mother-in-law of Marine Sergeant Nicole Gee, was a guest of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Texas). 

In a TV interview ahead of President Biden’s address, Ms. Shamblin told Fox News that President Biden has never once reached out to her regarding the killing of her daughter-in-law in Afghanistan during his disastrous withdrawal.

The state of the union controversy over Mr. Nikoui’s arrest came just two days after Mr. McCaul issued a press release announcing that he was heading an open hearing Biden’s withdrawal in Afghanistan.

The hearing is slated for March 19. 

“I hope Christy’s attendance sends a clear signal to President Biden and the American people that I will not rest until a complete and thorough investigation has occurred—and that people are held accountable for what happened,” Mr. McCaul said in a statement ahead of President Biden’s address.

From The Epoch Times

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