Shortly after President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign asked its supporters Thursday which Space Force logo it should put on merchandise, Russia offered a suggestion of its own.
Seeming to troll the administration over its desire to create a sixth military branch, for space, the official Twitter account of the Russian embassy in the U.S. shared a picture of its logo idea with the caption “Good Morning, Space Forces!” It also included a link to the country’s own Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation’s Space Forces website.
Vice President Mike Pence unveiled the official Space Force plans at the Pentagon Thursday. Just hours after Pence’s formal announcement, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee asked supporters in an email to vote for one of six possible logo designs the group plans to place on merchandise and sell.
“President Trump wants a SPACE FORCE—a groundbreaking endeavor for the future of America and the final frontier,” Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in an email. “As a way to celebrate President Trump’s huge announcement, our campaign will be selling a new line of gear.”
That move caused Norman Eisen, President Obama’s former ethics czar who’s now with the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, to tell Newsweek on Friday that it appears as though the president is making government decisions “influenced by merchandising opportunities.”
“Trump has smashed through the wall separating government affairs from his outside, nongovernmental moneymaking, daily violating both the law and common decency as he milks official operations for his own private gain,” Eisen said. “It is wrong to do this kind of thing because it creates the impression and perhaps the reality that official government decision-making may be influenced by merchandising opportunities.”
Although the idea of a space military was previously floated by Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama in 2017, Trump presented the Space Force idea as a joke in March. The president then mentioned the idea again to cadets of the West Point Military Academy in May, this time saying he was “seriously thinking” of it. Since then, he’s touted the proposal numerous times at rallies and on the campaign trail.
Although a total budget and estimated price has not yet been set for Trump’s new military wing, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Pentagon officials assume it will cost “billions.”
Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly called the president’s Space Force a “dumb idea” in June.
“This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job,” Kelly said, who’s known to be an active critic of the current Trump administration. “What’s next, we move submarines to the seventh branch and call it the ‘under-the-sea force?’”
Under plans released by the White House to establish the Space Force, the Department of Defense will “accelerate space technology and development initiatives,” establish a “Space Development Agency,” create a “Space Operations Force,” build an “operating structure and accountable civilian oversight,” and create a “United States Space Command” to “improve, evolve, and plan space war fighting.”