Washington Post: Trump eyeing visit to US troops in combat zone

Posted at 5:45 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 10:27:07-05

President Donald Trump has discussed with advisers the possibility of a presidential visit to US troops in a combat zone for the first time during his presidency, The Washington Post reported Monday night.

The Post also quoted a former senior White House official who suggested one reason for Trump’s reluctance to visit combat zones is that he’s “afraid of those situations.”

During his first two years in office, Trump has cast himself as a strong ally of the nation’s military but has faced intense criticism for having not visited troops in an active combat zone. The Post, citing current and former advisers, reported that another reason Trump has declined to visit troops in Afghanistan and Iraq because “he does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures.”

The paper also said that current advisers said the President is not planning to visit troops during Thanksgiving break, which some former presidents have done during their presidencies. Instead, he will spend the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The Post also said that advisers told them that in meetings about a potential visit, Trump “described the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as ‘a total shame.'” According to the paper, officials said the President also cited “long flights and potential security risks as reasons he has avoided combat-zone visits.”

Trump has “spoken privately about his fears over risks to his own life,” said the former senior White House official, who has discussed the issue with the President, according to the Post.

“He’s never been interested in going,” the official said. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”

On Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that by not visiting troops, Trump is sending the message that he “doesn’t support them.”

“He’s not concerned about what they’re doing and their welfare and the performance of their mission,” Clapper told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day,” adding that it’s critical the President show his support, “regardless of how he feels personally about the missions that they’re performing.”

Trump told Fox News in a recent interview that he plans to visit US troops and that there are “things that are being planned.”

“We don’t want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else,” he said, adding that he’s “had an unbelievable busy schedule.”

Past presidents have visited troops in war zones at various points during their presidencies. Former President Barack Obama visited troops in Iraq a little over two months into his administration, and Afghanistan after being in office for just over a year. Former President George W. Bush visited Iraq about eight months after the start of the war there.