The commander-in-chief — who’s had numerous back-and-forths with the military — has recently been under fire for openly disputing remarks made by a pregnant Army widow whose husband was killed in Niger.
After four Army soldiers were killed in the Oct. 4 ambush, Trump remained quiet for 12 days.
He then disputed accounts alleging that he told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson he “knew what he signed up for” and forgot the soldier’s name.
“It made me cry,” Myeshia Johnson told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Monday. “I was very angry at the tone of his voice, and how he said it.”
Trump later tweeted that he had a “respectful conversation” with the widow, and denied he forgot Johnson’s name.
The latest flare-up came after a bizarre week in which Trump feuded with Rep. Frederica Wilson, who heard the call on speakerphone as it happened. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, himself a retired four-star Marine general, called Wilson an “empty barrel” and told reporters an erroneous story about her.
The sad chapter marks Trump’s latest incident of waging war on those who served or the notion of military service.
A moment of silence, please, as we recall Trump’s decorated history of dishonoring service:
Trump never served in the military, dodging the Vietnam War with four deferments before finally falling back on a medical disqualification for bone spurs that kept him out of combat for good.
In the first campaign controversy that made Trump’s White House bid seem doomed, he insulted the Republican senator — and 2008 Republican presidential candidate — who spent more than five years suffering as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
Trump, who spent those same years working at his father’s real estate company, wasn’t impressed.
“He’s not a war hero,” he said at an Iowa summit in July 2015.
“He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump would only double down on those comments in the next few days, calling the war veteran “yet another all talk, no action politician” who has “done very little for veterans.”
Trump never apologized to McCain, and ultimately said he felt no need to because his polling numbers went up anyway.
The Khan family
In one of the most surreal conflicts from the 2016 campaign, Trump spent nearly a week disparaging the Gold Star family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier killed in an Iraq suicide attack in 2004.
Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala, stole the show at the Democratic National Convention when the father challenged Trump’s commitment to his country and its armed forces.
“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” Khizr asked.
“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing — and no one.”
Thus began Trump’s battle with the family — and he fought dirty.
In the next few days, Trump would suggest Khan’s mother remained silent during the DNC speech because, as a Muslim wife, she “wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” He contended that he, too, had made sacrifices because he “created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures.” One of his advisers spread a baseless conspiracy theory that Khizr Khan is a “Muslim Brotherhood agent.”
And in the end, once again, Trump did not apologize.
Taking a Purple Heart
Trump couldn’t earn a Purple Heart, so he just took one.
A veteran in Virginia gave Trump a Purple Heart medal during an August campaign speech — and the future commander-in-chief saw no problem in accepting it.
“I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier,” he said.
It remained unclear if the medal was authentic (as Trump argued) or a replica (as the veteran said). But veteran groups and Purple Heart recipients slammed Trump for not even thinking twice about keeping the second hand honor.
“My personal Vietnam”
Trump’s only true battle was in the bedroom.
Years before running for President, Trump boasted on Howard Stern’s show about surviving his brave challenges of sleeping around with women who might have sexually transmitted diseases.
“It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam,” he said in a 2004 clip dug up by BuzzFeed News.
“It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
Ripping off vets
Trump has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to show how much he respects vets.
Which is to say: Very little.
In lieu of any service on his own, Trump has sometimes bought his way into veteran affairs by making donations that earned him a spot in, say, a parade or a memorial service.
But there’s little evidence Trump has handed over the war chest of donations he has claimed.
Trump spent the first few months of 2016 claiming he sent nearly $6 million to veterans groups nationwide, but Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold couldn’t find any evidence of any donations.
After Fahrenthold asked and asked about the money, Trump held a news conference in May assuring he had sent out his donations.
It turned out he sent most of them within a week of the press conference or, in some cases, on the same day Fahrenthold interviewed him about the mystery money.
One of his biggest donations, of $1 million, went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a foundation that gave Trump an award the year before.
Trump promised in the campaign that he would “take care” of America’s veterans, which, so far, has proven to be about as half-true as his donations were.
His proposed federal budget gives the Department of Veteran Affairs an extra $4.3 billion, but it also cuts back on the cost-of-living adjustments for veteran benefit payouts, and it slashes funds for the Limb Loss Resource Center and Paralysis Resource Center, two organizations that help the VA with veterans suffering those ailments.
Easter Egg Roll
After Trump has repeatedly criticized professional athletes for refusing to stand during the national anthem before games, accusing them of disrespecting the American flag, he joked Wednesday about a bugle call — a custom that lets military members know a flag is being lowered on a military installation.
The melody was played during President Trump’s interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, at Harrisburg Air National Guard Base on Oct. 11.
“What a nice sound that is,” Trump said.
“Are they playing that for you or for me?” he continued, before answering his own question.
“They are playing that in honor of his ratings,” he said, referring to Hannity’s show.
“Did you see how good his ratings are?” he asked the crowd.
The interview with the Fox News host came before Trump’s address on tax revision.
President Trump attended a military high school, but appeared to be unfamiliar with the military tradition, continuing to speak right through it.
Despite his condemnation of NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality during the national anthem before games, Trump too has failed to consistently follow time-honored traditions with respect to the American flag and the military.
Delayed condolence letters
After criticism that he waited 12 days to address the attack in Niger, Trump boasted President Obama and other predecessors never even called other Gold Star families. In fact, Trump said, he’d done more for those families than anyone.
Relatives of at least three sailors killed when the USS John S. McCain crashed this summer disagreed, however, and said they didn’t receive condolence letters until this week.
Ten seamen were killed when the destroyer collided with a tanker on Aug. 21 off the coast of Malaysia and Singapore. But family members for three of those sailors told the Atlantic they didn’t receive a condolence letter from Trump until last week — sent through UPS next-day shipping.
“Honestly, I feel the letter is reactionary to the media storm brewing over how these things have been handled,” Timothy Eckels Sr., whose son Timothy Jr. was killed, told the magazine.
The $25,000 check
Trump reportedly promised to send a $25,000 to the financially struggling Chris Baldridge, whose son was killed by an Afghan police officer in June.
The vow came during a condolence call after Army Sgt. Dillon Baldridge and two comrades were slain, but Baldridge said four months later that the check never came.
“He said, ‘I’m going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,’ and I was just floored,” the elder Baldridge told the Washington Post on Oct. 18. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ ”
After the matter was brought to light, a White House official told the newspaper: “The check has been sent.”
With TERENCE CULLEN