Trump Holds Thanksgiving Teleconference With Troops Amid Criticism That He Doesn’t Support Military

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a turkey pardoning event as one of the two candidate turkeys Peas stands on a table at the Rose Garden of the White House November 20, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

After facing months of controversy surrounding his level of support of U.S. military troops, president Donald Trump held a teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, speaking with service members on Thanksgiving. The Hill reports that the president included members of all five branches of the military in a call to wish them “a happy Thanksgiving and thank them for their service.”

The call comes after a turbulent few weeks in which the president faced backlash for appearing to fail to support the troops. Though Trump spoke with troops on the phone last Thanksgiving as well, he has not visited service members in Iraq or Afghanistan in the nearly two years which he has been the commander-in-chief, something for which he has faced harsh criticism.

When asked recently if he plans to visit troops in the Middle East, Trump was vague.

“We’ll be doing some interesting things,” he replied.

When a reporter followed up with Trump to ask if he knew when these “interesting things” would happen, he replied that he did.

“I do, but I can’t tell you.”

On Thursday’s call, Trump asked the commander of the Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan “how are things going over there?” He then suggested that he could visit the troops at some point.

“Maybe I’ll see you over there. You never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Trump has received backlash for failing to visit a World War I cemetery in France earlier this month, saying that his transportation to the event was canceled due to bad weather.

He also failed to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, something he says that he “should have done.”

Trump has claimed that his “unbelievably busy schedule” has prevented him from visiting troops in a combat zone, though he says that plans to do so are underway.

“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,” Trump said. “But there are things that are planned. As you know, I was very much opposed to the war in Iraq.”

The president also announced on Twitter that he has plants to visit the Coast Guard on Thanksgiving in order to thank them for their work.

“Will be speaking with our great military in different parts of the world, through teleconference, at 9:00 A.M. Eastern,” he announced. “Then it will be off to see our Coast Guard patriots & to thank them for the great job they have been doing, especially with the hurricanes. Happy Thanksgiving!”

No details have been released on where Trump plans to meet up with the members of the Coast Guard.