Rear Admiral John Kirby: Trump Puts Troops in Difficult Position By Turning Visits Into ‘Campaign Events’
Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby appeared on CNN Thursday morning where he lambasted President Donald Trump for the politicization of his recent visit to troops in Iraq.
Trump’s visit stirred up controversy when White House correspondents accompanying the president reported uniformed service members holding Make America Great Again hats and even a Trump 2020 flag while waiting to meet the commander-in-chief.
Further questions about the politicization of the gathering were raised when Trump brought up topics he traditionally relies on at campaign rallies, such as the border wall he is trying to fund and build between the U.S. and Mexico. He was also criticized for pushing his policy objective on Syria.
“It puts them in an incredibly difficult position,” Kirby said. “They serve the whole nation — they take an oath to the Constitution, not to a political party. And while each of them individually are allowed to have political leaning — I mean, hell, we encourage them to vote — when they put that uniform on and particularly when they wear that uniform in a deployed status, they are representing the whole country and they are expected to be apolitical.”
The former State Department and Pentagon press secretary has been critical of the president in the past — even penning a column in November questioning whether Trump should visit troops at all after his politicization of a Thanksgiving Day phone call.
“Frankly, there are regulations that prohibit military members from participating in uniform in campaign events,” Kirby explained. “[Trump] basically turns these gatherings into campaign events, and so he puts them in a very difficult spot.”
Watch the clip above courtesy of CNN.
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