Photo: Toshifumi Ktamura/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump has long prided himself on being a champion of the armed services, claiming during an interview with AP last month that he has done "more for the military than any president in many, many years." But his rhetorical history paints another picture.
The big picture: Trump has a history of sparring with and criticizing military officials and service members, even before his presidency, though he frequently points to his prioritization of funding for the Pentagon as a sign of his commitment to the troops. Yet two years after his election, he hasn't visited troops in combat zones, and former Trump administration official and retired Marine Col. David Lapan told the New York Times that Trump doesn't understand "the proper use and role of the military and what we can, and can't, do."
What's happened: Most recently, Trump took a dig at retired Navy Adm. William McRaven — a military official who served for over 37 years and organized the Osama bin Laden raid — calling him a "Hillary Clinton backer," and saying it would "have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner."
- He canceled his World War I cemetery visit in France due to bad weather, despite other world leaders continuing on with plans to pay their respects.
- He skipped a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, telling Fox News' Chris Wallace he was "extremely busy because of affairs of state." He told Wallace that he should have gone, in retrospect, and "will virtually every year."
- He said visiting troops in combat zones is not "overly necessary." A former senior White House official told the Washington Post that Trump is "afraid of those situations. He's afraid people want to kill him."
- He urged Florida to only count ballots received by or cast on Election Day in the midterms, which would have disenfranchised military members voting abroad.
- Military members have expressed displeasure at Trump's comments as president that assert ownership over the armed forces, calling it "my military" and military leaders "my generals."
- He struggled to console Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in action in Niger last year.
- He blamed military generals for the death of Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens in Yemen last year on a mission he authorized: "This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. ... And they lost Ryan."
- He famously criticized late Sen. John McCain during the 2016 presidential campaign for being captured during the Vietnam war.
- He fought with Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan during the campaign.
- He went after retired 4-star Gen. John Allen, after Allen supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, saying, per Politico: "You know who he is? He’s a failed general. He was the general fighting ISIS. I would say he hasn't done so well, right?"
The bottom line, from retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO supreme allied commander: "Trump’s actions and behavior have led service members and veterans to question whether he really understands who a commander in chief is, or what he does."