CNN National Security Analyst John Kirby spoke with John King on Friday to discuss President Donald Trump’s comments before top military brass and reporters at the White House Thursday night.
Trump held a photo-op with military leaders Thursday, and his ominous remark that the meeting represented the “calm before the storm,” with no further clarification, has been getting the bulk of the media attention today.
But King wanted to address another comment Trump made during the meeting: namely, his on-camera criticism of military leaders that he needs military options “at a much faster pace.”
King called the remark an “extraordinary moment,” in which the president “publicly insult[ed]” his generals and admirals.
“Just a stunning public rebuke of men — including his secretary of defense — and women who’ve spent their adult lives in military service,” King said.
King then said to Kirby, who is himself a retired rear admiral, that as a civilian, Trump’s behavior strikes him as “pretty untoward by the president.”
“I had to think it must have been a gut punch to these guys to be so publicly rebuked by the commander in chief,” Kirby said.
“You don’t get to be an admiral or general without being sensitive to the trust and confidence of your superiors and making sure you’re earning that,” he continued. “And to have him do that in front of the cameras I’m sure did not sit very well with them.”
Kirby went on to note that he has worked with most of the military leaders present at the meeting, and said that “none of them hew to bureaucracy,” and questioned whether the president’s complaint even had merit.
“Certainly this was not a good moment for him with his top military leaders.”
When asked why Trump would make the remarks, Kirby added that they looked like they were prepared for Trump, likely to make him appear “presidential and in charge…as if these guys needed to be reminded who the commander in chief was.”
He concluded that Trump’s comments probably left the military leaders “scratching their heads.”
[image via screengrab]
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