US President Donald Trump has defended his decision to send special forces troops into the home of his Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
The troops arrived unannounced in Mr Biden’s Delaware home as the Democrats’ presidential nominee was conducting another of his virtual campaign rallies (main picture).
The rally was being shown live by several US television networks and was also being live-streamed by the US Democratic Party.
Viewers immediately flooded social media channels to express their shock at the sudden appearance of the heavily armed troops, but also to express their surprise that Mr Biden did not notice them.
Only towards the end of his rally broadcast did Mr Biden make reference to the other people in the room when he moved towards a helmeted and machine-gun toting soldier and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek.
Suddenly remembering current social distancing rules, Mr Biden stopped and said: “Sorry Jill.”
He then turned back to the camera and remarked: “If you had a wife as hot as mine you’d want to kiss her all the time too, even if she is wearing a mask.”
Mr Biden then yawned and began to take off his clothes, saying: “Honey, where’s my pyjamas?” The live stream was cut off at that point.
In a short statement issued by the White House, Mr Trump said it was his duty as commander-in-chief to send troops where any American was in imminent danger.
He tied the move to his current efforts to establish “law and order” in the face of civil unrest but again denied his actions were designed to give him political advantage.
The Republican Party’s US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, supported the President’s decision.
“I think viewers who saw the former vice-president on the broadcast today will appreciate that the President acted in the way he did for Joe’s own safety,” Senator McConnell said.
“If he wasn’t in imminent danger before the troops arrived, he is now. So it stands to reason the President took the decision he did.”