TRUMP AND THE MILITARY, ANNOTATED

Trump tramples the graves of American Heroes
Trump tramples the graves of American heroes

On September 3rd, the Atlantic published a story on comments allegedly made by Trump about soldiers. The whole article is revealing, but some of the quotes attributed to Trump are truly vile. Upon a memorial visit to honor US war dead, he canceled the event, citing weather conditions. The story alleges the real reason was that he didn’t want to go, not just because it would mess up his hair, but because “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” When traveling to a WWI battle site, he asked “Who were the good guys in this war?” and said he couldn’t understand why the US would intervene on the side of the Allies. He said the honored dead in that cemetery were “suckers” for getting killed.

The story continues about a visit to Arlington with then-DHS-head John Kelly, whose son died in Afghanistan. Standing near his son’s grave, Trump told Kelly “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Another 4-Star General commented that Trump “can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself…He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.” Kelly’s friend went on to say, “Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain. That’s why he would say this to the father of a fallen marine on Memorial Day in the cemetery where he’s buried.”

That exchange is honestly the best description I’ve ever seen of Trump’s character. A despicable human being, the ONLY thing that matters to Trump is Trump. But I digress — we can discuss his pathology another day.

The article goes on to talk about John McCain, and Trump’s hatred for him. We all remember Trump saying “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The article says how Trump at first refused to lower the flags for McCain when he died, but eventually relented — this account was confirmed by Miles Taylor, former DHS Chief of Staff. Trump responded by saying that he never called John McCain a loser. Another lie — he himself posted about it on his Twitter, and it’s in the video above. More here. He also allegedly told his generals, while planning a military parade that was later scrapped, that he didn’t want to feature wounded soldiers because he would feel uncomfortable in the presence of amputees and “nobody wants to see that.”

A lot has been made of the fact that the quotes in the Atlantic article came from anonymous sources. While it certainly would have been better if those people had gone on the record, one can understand why they might not want to. But since they didn’t, their existence and credibility needs to be examined carefully. I should note that all of the president’s allies have come out very aggressively in denying this story. That said, there are a lot of reasons to believe the reporting is accurate, starting with the fact that Trump has said similar, and some arguably worse, things in public (see McCain video above). A good examination of why this story appears credible is here. The reporting has also been independently confirmed by the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News.

And let’s be honest, this is not the first time Trump has degraded the military, used the military for political purposes, disrespected service, or simply mocked it. Here’s an incomplete, annotated list of Trump and the military:

1. During the Vietnam War, Trump received 4 student draft deferments. After that, he got a medical deferment for having bone spurs in his foot. There is reason to believe that the doctor who wrote that medical exemption (his father’s tenant) did it as a “favor” for Trump’s father.

2. In sworn testimony to Congress, Michael Cohen confirmed that Trump lied to get out of the draft.

3. According to Mary Trump, his niece, he told Don Jr. that he would be disowned if he joined the military.

4. Same for Tiffany.

5. Trump threatened to veto the primary military funding bill if it contained a provision renaming army bases that are named after Confederate generals. Army bases that are literally named after people who took up arms against the United States.

6. He compared his own sacrifice to/disparaged Khizr Khan and his wife, gold star parents of a US Army captain.

7. He contrived an emergency declaration in order to “divert” money away from the military to pay for his border wall.

8. He threatened to send US military forces to American cities to quell protests after George Floyd’s death.

9. His Dept of Homeland Security wrote an 11-page memo in support of mobilizing 100k National Guard troops and using them to round up illegal immigrants. Important to note that neither the National Guard nor the military are law enforcement officers.

10. Trump abandoned our closest military allies in the fight against ISIS, the Kurds. He left them to die at the hands of Turkish forces. Important to note that there is more than a little suspicion this was done to get in the good graces of Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the many Trump real estate holdings in Turkey. Also, the letter he sent to Erdogan will make you laugh AND puke.

11. Without consulting anybody in the military — and against the findings of a pentagon study on whether there is any real disruption in unit cohesion — Trump banned all transgender people from serving in the military. His generals didn’t know it was coming and didn’t know how to follow the order, originally given on Twitter.

12. Finally, let’s never forget that Trump leveraged military support in Ukraine’s war against Russia to solicit a bribe from its president, an action for which he was impeached and should have been removed from office, but for spineless GOP enablers.

I actually do give credit to Trump for not starting any new wars yet (despite best efforts in Iran and North Korea), but let’s be honest: do you really believe Trump supports the troops?

Father, Husband, Attorney. I call myself a moderate Libertarian. I might be the only one.