Prior to November, Donald Trump seemed to have little interest in visiting troops stationed in combat zones, a routine occurrence in a normal presidency. Last month a senior White House official attributed this, partly, to Trump being scared: “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people are going to kill him.”
On December 26, on the fifth day of a partial government shutdown, days after he announced his intention to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan, the president decided to cross a trip to visit the troops overseas off his list of presidential experiences. The surprise visit began with Trump in a bomber jacket, welcomed by a soundtrack of “USA! USA!” chants and the gushing patriotism of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” “Our presence in Syria was not open-ended and was never intended to be permanent,” Trump said. “We’re no longer the suckers folks.”
But Newsweek reports that we may, indeed, still suck. In the pool report of the trip — which was embargoed to help protect the Trumps’ safety in Iraq — the president asked the chaplain of Seal Team Five, Lieutenant Commander Kyu Lee, to take a picture with him, revealing the presence of the special ops team at the al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq. When Trump left Iraqi airspace, he posted a video in which he and the First Lady pause for photos with members of Seal Team Five, decked in full battle gear and night vision goggles.