- President Donald Trump, in private conversations, expressed concern for his safety in potential trips to Afghanistan or Iraq to visit deployed US service members, a former senior White House official told The Washington Post.
- “He’s never been interested in going,” the former official said. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”
- Other current and former advisers reportedly said Trump also feared being tied to failed military conflicts.
- Trump recently received criticism for his decision not to visit US troops in a combat zone during his nearly two years as commander in chief.
President Donald Trump, in private conversations, expressed concern for his safety in potential trips to Afghanistan or Iraq to visit deployed US service members, a former senior White House official said in a Washington Post report published Monday.
“He’s never been interested in going,” the former official said. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”
Trump, who has yet to visit US troops in a combat zone, recently received criticism for not having made such a trip. This may change, however, according to The Post and Trump’s own comments. In recent weeks, Trump reportedly floated the idea to his advisers.
“I think you will see that happen,” Trump said during an interview with the Fox News host Chris Wallace. “There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of security reasons and everything else.”
Trump’s immediate predecessor, President Barack Obama, visited troops in Iraq as a US senator in 2008. He made another trip to Iraq after becoming president in 2009 and went on to make four trips to Afghanistan.
Trump has also turned down the idea of visiting deployed troops over fears he could be tied to failed military conflicts, other current and former advisers told The Post. Aides also noted that shortly after taking office, Trump was noticeably affected following an unannounced trip to receive the remains of US Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during a raid on a Qaeda compound in Yemen.
Though some of the preparations ahead of a president’s visit to a combat zone fall squarely on the shoulders of service members, the move is generally seen as a morale boost for troops, particularly during the holiday season when many are away from their families.
Despite his numerous claims that his support for the military is unparalleled, Trump continues to be at odds with high-profile veterans and their families, notably those who remain critical of his policies.
On Sunday, the former Joint Special Operations commander Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, became the latest veteran to be targeted by the president.
In his Fox News interview, Trump referred to McRaven as “a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer,” and he appeared critical of US intelligence.
“Frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that,” Trump told Wallace.
McRaven, who was reportedly once on Trump’s shortlist for national security adviser, wrote a stunning opinion column in August that rebuked the White House’s decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance.
“Your leadership … has shown little of these qualities,” McRaven wrote, addressing Trump. “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
More recently, Trump raised eyebrows after he decided not to attend a memorial service in France that marked the end of World War I. The White House cited inclement weather and logistical difficulties.
Trump continued to draw scrutiny after failing to visit Arlington National Cemetery after Veterans Day, a tradition observed by his predecessors. He later expressed regret in not attending.
“I should have done that,” Trump told Wallace.