President Trump sent a strong message of support to servicemen and women early Tuesday morning, saying on Twitter, “I will always protect our great warfighters. I’ve got your backs!” Trump has received pushback and mutiny from the Pentagon and senior grade officers after he intervened in several military justice cases involving combat veterans to correct injustices that have exposed abuses and corruption in the system.
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President Trump with troops at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska in May.
I will always protect our great warfighters. I’ve got your backs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2019
Trump’s statement echoed his remarks Monday made at an Oval Office press spray with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov about his handling of the case of Navy SEAL CPO Eddie Gallagher and the firing of Navy Sec. Richard Spencer (excerpts via White House transcript):
Q Mr. President, what was your thinking behind the Navy Secretary this weekend?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’ve been thinking about that for a long time; that didn’t just happen. And I have to protect my warfighters. I’ve been — gotten — a lot of people have — a lot of warfighters and people in the military have thanked us very much. It’s been — it’s about time. They had one young man in jail for six years. He had many years to go. And a lot of people think he shouldn’t have been there. And I gave him a pardon.
With Eddie Gallagher — you know that story very well — they wanted to take his pin away, and I said, “No, you’re not going to take it away.” He was a great fighter. He was the — one of the ultimate fighters. Tough guy. These are not weak people. These are tough people.
And we’re going to protect our warfighters. And I’ve been given a lot thank-yous, including we just had some very great Special Forces people come to the White House, and they brought Conan. But they were here for themselves also. I wanted to see them. I wanted to meet them. They gave us a rundown on what happened with al-Baghdadi. And they were incredible.
But they were very thankful. Somebody has their back, and it’s called the “President of the U.S.” Okay? We’ve got their back.
…Q Mr. President, are you at all concerned that with some of your comments about the Navy Secretary and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, that you’re disparaging members of the armed forces?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I think what I’m doing is sticking up for our armed forces. And there’s never been a President that’s going to stick up for them and has, like I have, including the fact that we spent two and a half trillion dollars on rebuilding our armed forces.
And some very unfair things were happening. You let Sergeant Bergdahl go. You let others go, including a young gentleman, now a person who President Obama let go, who stole tremendous amounts of classified information. And you let that person go. But Sergeant Bergdahl — we just lost another man who went after — you know he died last week. He went after — from — he was paralyzed from just about the neck down, and he died last week, going after Sergeant Bergdahl, trying to find Sergeant Bergdahl.
So when you have a system that allows Sergeant Bergdahl to go, and you probably had five to six people killed — nobody even knows the number, because he left — and he gets a slap on the wrist, if that; and then you have a system where these warriors get put in jail for 25 years — I’m going to stick for our warrior. I will stick up for the warriors.
Okay, thank you very much everybody.
Q Mr. President what do you make of —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: The person I’m talking about is Chelsea Manning, by the way, if you had any doubt. So you have Chelsea Manning, who after — after Chelsea Manning was, I assume, pardoned by President Obama, Chelsea Manning went around and badmouthed President Obama, on top of everything else.
So when you have a Chelsea Manning who stole classified information and did many, many things that were not good and gets pardoned — or whatever happened — and you have a Sergeant Bergdahl who gets — virtually nothing happens; a slap on the wrist — and then they want to put these warriors in jail for 25 years. One of them, Lorance, served six years in jail; had many years left as a fighter. No, we’re not going do that to our people.”