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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."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

NASA estimates Tonga volcano exploded with force of 5-6 megatons

A satellite image of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Dec. 24, before the eruption. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

NASA scientists estimate the power of Tonga's volcanic eruption over the weekend to have been 5-6 Megatons of TNT equivalent.

Threat level: Saturday's eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano and subsequent tsunami killed at least three people. Scientists warn an "ash-seawater cocktail" poses a potentially toxic health threat, and drinking water could be contaminated.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

4 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.

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