Donald Trump’s response to Meghan McCain’s eulogy for her dad is a MAGA tweet

Perhaps the most biting part of Meghan McCain’s eulogy for her father Sen. John McCain during Saturday’s memorial was when she went straight for President Trump’s slogan.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said as part of a speech that routinely took jabs at Trump.

People in the room clapped and social media erupted. You can read her entire speech.

Meghan gave one of several eulogies in McCain’s honor Saturday when a who’s who of Washington and the world gathered at the National Cathedral for his memorial service.

President Trump was not invited and decided instead to spend time at the Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Virginia, amid a morning of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the FBI and threatening Canada.

Hours later, though, Trump seemingly responded on Twitter with a signature-style message to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Reviews of his response were mixed.

[USA Today]

Trump decided against White House statement praising McCain

President Trump decided against releasing an official White House statement on Sen. John McCain following his death, two administration sources confirmed to Fox News.

The statement would have praised him for his decades of service and his heroism as a Vietnam War POW. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and other senior aides all had pushed for such a statement, which would have called McCain a “hero.”

The president, however, rejected the statement and instead issued a brief tweet Saturday night following the legendary Arizona Republican senator’s death.

The tweet said, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

The decision on the statement was first reported by The Washington Post.

Trump’s decision speaks to the longstanding feud between the two men, dating back to when Trump, as a candidate, said McCain was not a war hero and seemed to fault him for being captured during the Vietnam War. McCain endured five years in captivity, an experience that later shaped his views, as a senator, on interrogation techniques. Known as the Senate’s “maverick,” McCain often bucked party ideology, earning him praise on Democratic side of the aisle and sometimes criticism from his own party – but he remained an influential voice even through his battle with brain cancer. He twice ran for president and was the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.

Tributes to McCain, meanwhile, poured in from other world leaders and statesmen including former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own,” Barack and Michelle Obama said in their statement.

“In an era filled with cynicism about national unity and public service, John McCain’s life shone as a bright example. He showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or clichés, but the building blocks of an extraordinary American life,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

McConnell also announced that McCain will lie in State at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

[Fox News]

Trump got into a bizarre fight with Vietnam vets over the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’

A new report from the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng claims that President Donald Trump got into a bizarre argument last year during a meeting with Vietnam veterans over the classic war movie “Apocalypse Now.”

According to Suebsaeng’s sources, the meeting between Trump and several Vietnam veterans was arranged by estranged former aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who at the time served as a liaison between the president and veterans’ organizations.

During the meeting, a dispute broke out over whether Robert Duvall’s character in “Apocalypse Now” used napalm or Agent Orange against Vietcong forces. Apparently, Trump falsely believed that it was Agent Orange that U.S. forces used against the enemy, despite the fact that the movie’s single most famous line is Duvall’s character saying, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

“Multiple people — including Vietnam War veterans — chimed in to inform the president that the Apocalypse Now set piece he was talking about showcased the U.S. military using napalm, not Agent Orange,” Suebsaeng reports. “Trump refused to accept that he was mistaken and proceeded to say things like, ‘no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.’”

One veteran who was present at the meeting described it to Suebsaeng as “really f*cking weird.”

[Raw Story]

Army discharging some immigrant recruits

The U.S. Army has begun quietly discharging some immigrant members, a move that could put those member’s immigration status at risk, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

Immigration attorneys told the AP that they knew of more than 40 immigrant recruits and reservists who had been discharged from their service or whose status is now at question.

Some of the military members told the AP that they did not know why they were discharged. Others said they were told they were labeled a “security risk” because of relatives abroad and or because their background checks were incomplete.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army told the news outlet that they could not comment on the discharges or say if there have been any policy changes due to pending litigation.

The Defense Department told the AP in a statement that “[a]ll service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.”

The immigration attorneys told the AP that many of the immigrants received an “uncharacterized discharge,” putting into question their ability to remain in the U.S.

Immigrant military members can obtain citizenship if they receive an honorable discharge. The AP reported that basic training has been delayed for discharged immigrant soldiers, which means they can’t become naturalized citizens.

Recruits must have legal status in the U.S. before enlisting in the Army. About 10,000 immigrants are currently serving in the military, with most going to the Army, according to the outlet.

The reports comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy mandating that all undocumented immigrants caught at the border face prosecution.

[The Hill]

Trump Lied About Parents Of Korean War Vets, Now He’s Lying About Returned Bodies

Having already invented “thousands” of parents who begged him to bring home the bodies of their Korean War veteran children, President Donald Trump is now inventing hundreds of such repatriations that haven’t actually happened.

The return of the remains of American service members who were killed in that war has become a major “victory” Trump likes to claim from his June 12 meeting in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

“It was the last thing I asked,” he told a gathering of Nevada Republicans on Saturday. “I said, ‘Do you mind, would I be able to get the remains back of all those great heroes from so many years ago?’ And he said, ‘I will do that.’ And you probably read, they have already done 200 people. Which is so great.”

On Monday, Trump told a rally audience in South Carolina: “We’re getting the remains of our great heroes back.”

The only problem: No remains have yet been returned, and it is unclear when that might happen. “We have not yet physically received them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, but said that he is “optimistic” it would take place “in the not-too-distant future.”

That explanation was not sufficient for Iraq War veteran Will Fischer, with the progressive veterans group VoteVets.

“It’s beyond the pale to lie about remains of fallen service persons already being returned, when they, in fact, haven’t been,” Fischer said. “Remains like these aren’t some prize, where you can make up some big fish stories. These are troops who died in war, and whose families have had no closure. He disrespected Gold Star families during the campaign, and he’s doing it now.”

[Huffington Post]

Trump on Memorial Day: Those who died for US ‘would be very happy’ with how country is doing

President Trump marked Memorial Day in a tweet on Monday claiming that the nation’s fallen heroes “would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today.”

“Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more.” Trump tweeted. “Nice!”

Memorial Day is held annually to honor service members who died for the U.S.

Trump had tweeted a video in honor of the holiday earlier Monday.

The president is scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery later Monday morning.

He has often used Twitter to brag about the state of the economy under his administration. The black and Hispanic unemployment rates both reached record lows last month, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.

[The Hill]

Reality

Black unemployment rate:

Hispanic unemployment rate:

VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump’s commitment

Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call.

“I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out,” Elisha Harig-Blaine, a National League of Cities housing official who was on the call, said in an interview afterward. “You’re putting at risk the lives of men and women who’ve served this country.”

“The VA is taking its foot off the pedal,” said Leon Winston, an executive at Swords to Plowshares, which helps homeless vets in San Francisco, where he said the VA decision is already having an impact. HUD recently put up 100 housing vouchers for veterans in the program, but the local VA hospital said it could only provide support for 50.

The agency’s move came as HUD on Wednesday released its annual survey showing a 1.5 percent increase in veteran homelessness over 2016 — the first rise since 2010. Most of the jump occurred in Los Angeles, where housing costs are skyrocketing.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who sits on a veterans’ affairs subcommittee, called the VA decision “a new low” for the Trump administration that was “especially callous and perplexing” in view of the latest data on homelessness.

In a statement late Wednesday, Shulkin insisted that overall funding for veteran homelessness was not being cut, and seemed to suggest he might reverse the decision. He promised to get input from local VA leaders and others “on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it most.”

HUD data show there were nearly 40,000 homeless veterans in 2016, and even those with housing still need assistance. The program has reduced the number of displaced servicemembers, serving 138,000 since 2010 and cut the number without housing on a given day by almost half. More than half the veterans housed are chronically ill, mentally ill or have substance abuse problems.

[Politico]

Trump Blames Generals for Niger Ambush That Got Four U.S. Soldiers Killed

Did President Donald Trump, the commander-in-chief, just blame U.S. generals for the deadly October 4 ambush in Niger?

When asked by reporters on Wednesday if he authorized the mission in Niger that left four U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers dead, Trump said, “No, I didn’t, not specifically.” The generals have “decision-making ability,” he added.

“I have generals that are great generals,” he said during an impromptu press conference outside of the White House before heading off to Dallas. “These are great fighters; these are warriors. I gave them authority to do what’s right so that we win. That’s the authority they have. I want to win. And we’re going to win.”

Trump referred to the leaders as “my generals” and “my military.” He’s used such phrasing before, which has angered the military community.

“When it comes to the military, the military belongs to the country. Our defense system belongs to the country. And it’s not the president’s military, it’s the military of the United States of America,” Leon Panetta, a former defense secretary and director of the CIA, said in April.

This is also not the first time Trump has seemingly placed responsibility for a deadly military incident on the generals. After a botched raid in Yemen resulted in the death of U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens in late January, Trump said, “My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

During his presidential campaign, Trump said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” His actions since becoming president, however, suggest Trump doesn’t believe this at all.

Trump has delegated far more autonomy to the Pentagon in conducting military operations than was offered by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He’s also filled his cabinet with military men. Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis are both retired Marine generals.

“What I do is I authorize my military…. We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said in April. The president argued this is why the military has been “so successful” under his watch compared to “what has happened over the last eight years.”

The military seems to appreciate this newfound independence under Trump.

“It has freed us up a bit to prosecute the war in a more aggressive manner, I think,” said Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria from August 2016 to September 2017, during an interview with Time over the summer.

But some have argued that the lack of restrictions has only made the military more trigger-happy, which could help explain the extreme rise in civilian deaths from U.S. air strikes under Trump. The rules the president has rolled back were designed to prevent civilian casualties.

Does the military’s increased autonomy also place troops in greater danger? This is less clear. But some argue that Trump has skirted portions of his responsibility as commander-in-chief, and that on more than one occasion this has allowed him to point to his generals when things have gotten messy.

Meanwhile, many questions remain about what exactly happened in Niger on October 4, and an investigation is ongoing.

[Newsweek]

Media

Trump spars with widow of slain soldier about condolence call

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a soldier killed earlier this month in Niger, said Monday that a condolence call from President Donald Trump “made me cry even worse,” prompting Trump to immediately push back against part of her emotional account via Twitter.

“The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways and I was — it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name was because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’” Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.”

An hour after Johnson’s ABC interview aired, Trump responded on Twitter to rebut a portion of her account. “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump claimed in his online post.

The interview and Trump’s online response to it drags the controversy surrounding the president’s condolence call to Johnson into its second week, prolonging a news cycle that has resurfaced questions about the president’s treatment of Gold Star families. The issue of Trump’s conversation with Johnson has mushroomed just as the White House has sought to focus attention on the president’s proposed tax cuts and reforms and has brought back memories of Trump’s feud with the Gold Star Khan family, who railed against the president at last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

The phone call between Johnson and the president became a point of contention last week when Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a family friend who was traveling with the widow when she took Trump’s call on speakerphone, told reporters that the president had struggled to remember Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s name and said the slain soldier knew what he signed up for when he enlisted.

As the week wore on, the White House lashed out at Wilson, accusing the hat-wearing congresswoman of being “all hat, no cattle” and suggesting that she had sought to politicize the soldier’s death. Trump himself, in a post to Twitter, wrote that Wilson had “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

The Trump administration’s most powerful defense came last Thursday from White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, who shared with reporters what happens when a service member dies and recalled details from the death of his own son, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly shared the words of condolence that his friend, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, had offered him on his son’s death — that “he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed” — a similar sentiment to what Trump sought to express on his call with Johnson.

Kelly, in his briefing room remarks, also lashed out at Wilson, referring to her as an “empty barrel” as he recalled the 2015 dedication of an FBI office in Miami, where he said the Florida lawmaker inappropriately boasted that she had been instrumental in securing the funding for the facility. But the chief of staff’s criticism was quickly discredited: Wilson had not yet been elected to Congress when the money for the FBI building was appropriated, and video of her remarks from the ceremony shows her celebrating the bipartisan legislation she spearheaded to name the new FBI building after two agents killed in a 1986 firefight, not to secure funding for the building.

The White House stood behind Kelly’s statement and Sanders told reporters Friday that “If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with the four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Despite the White House’s insistence that Wilson had mischaracterized and fabricated the tenor of Trump’s call, Myeshia Johnson’s account of the conversation aligned with the lawmaker’s account.

“Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct,” she said, explaining that six people, including Wilson, had heard the call as the family made its way to meet the slain soldier’s remains at Dover Air Force Base. “The phone was on speakerphone. Why would we fabricate something like that?”

The widow said she was left “very, very upset and hurt, very” by the president’s call.

She also said that many of her questions surrounding her husband’s death have not yet been answered by the military and that she has not been allowed to view her husband’s body. She said she has not been told how he was killed or why it took two days from the time La David Johnson’s unit was attacked for the military to recover his body.

“Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn’t let me,” she said. “I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband. I don’t know nothing. They won’t show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband’s body from head to toe, and they won’t let me see anything. I don’t know what’s in that box. It could be empty for all I know, but I need — I need to see my husband.”

[Politico]

Leaked Pentagon Email Undermines Trump’s Claim He Contacted Nearly All Gold Star Families

During President Donald Trump’s run of conservative talk radio interviews last week, the president claimed at that time that he had been in contact with nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember under his presidency. This statement came on the heels of Trump’s false claim that former President Barack Obama and other previous presidents did not call Gold Star families.

In an exclusive report last night, Roll Call obtained an email exchange involving the Pentagon that showed that the White House was aware that Trump had not contacted all of those families at that time and, in fact, the administration knew that it didn’t even have an updated list of all the soldiers who have lost their life this year.

The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them.Capt. Hallock Mohler, the executive secretary to Defense Secretary James Mattis, provided the White House with information in the 5 p.m. email about how each servicemember had died and the identity of his or her survivors, including phone numbers.The email’s subject line was, “Condolence Letters Since 20 January 2017.”

In his interview earlier that day, the president told Fox News Radio that he believed he had called “everybody” but that he would “use the word virtually everybody” to describe his calls to Gold Star families.

Following Trump’s boast, the Associated Press reached out to 20 families and discovered that half of them had yet to hear from the president. Also, it was unclear of those families that had heard from Trump if those contacts were made this past week after the controversy blew up over the contacting of Gold Star families.

During an appearance at a White House press briefing earlier this week, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly indicated that Trump first asked for his advice on contacting the family members of fallen soldiers a few days ago, after Trump had been confronted on his 12-day silence on the deadly Niger ambush. Meanwhile, at another press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would only state that Trump had contacted families he had been presented information on.

[Mediaite]

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