CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — A former Marine battalion commander pleaded guilty Thursday to charges including conduct unbecoming an officer after he complained about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in online videos that made him well-known in conservative political circles.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller entered the plea to charges also including failure to obey order or regulation during the court-martial at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, his attorney Tim Parlatore said in a text message. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to follow the morning proceedings, Parlatore said.
In an Aug. 26 video posted on Facebook, Scheller said he was willing to risk his career to call out military leaders regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan after 13 U.S. troops were killed in Kabul.
“I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders: I demand accountability,” he said in the video while wearing a camouflage uniform.
Scheller followed that comment with a series of social media posts, including an Aug. 29 video in which he resigned his commission and said “follow me and we will bring down the whole … system.”
Scheller continued to speak out, and on Sept. 27, he was placed in pretrial confinement at Camp Lejeune.
After his videos attracted numerous views, he became the subject of a fundraising campaign and received the support of a nonprofit legal defense fund for former service members.
In a sign of that support, two Republican members of Congress testified Thursday on his behalf — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia by teleconference and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas in person, The Daily News of Jacksonville reported.
“Nobody has owned up. Nobody has taken accountability” for the situation in Afghanistan, Gohmert said, adding that the judge should take into account that Scheller “is an honest guy” when sentencing him.
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