Two United States special forces soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, according to a report by The Military Times, and six more were wounded in a gun battle that was reported to be an “insider” attack. But though the troop deaths were reported early Saturday afternoon on the U.S. east coast, Donald Trump had not commented on the situation as of midnight that night.
Trump was active on Twitter Saturday evening, however, posting a series of tweets in which he offered thanks for “great reviews” of his State of the Union speech, attacked Senators who voted to convict him in his impeachment trial, and offered a plug for a Fox News show.
One month earlier, Trump also faced criticism for his failure to comment on an Iranian rocket attack against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq — though later that night Trump finally tweeted “All is well!” and “So far so good!”
But at approximately midnight on Saturday, February 8, Trump took to Twitter to post a video clip of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro calling Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney a “snake” over his vote to convict Trump.
“The feeling of many about @MittRomney!” Trump wrote in his tweet of Pirro’s remarks.
Trump also lashed out at Joe Manchin, the conservative West Virginia Democratic Senator who had reportedly been considering breaking with his own party and voting to acquit Trump. But ultimately, Manchin joined all over Democrats by voting “guilty.”
In his Twitter posts, Trump called Manchin’s vote “phony” and derided the 72-year-old, two-term senator as “weak & pathetic.”
In an earlier tweet, posted after the initial reports of the Afghanistan troop deaths, Trump touted the “great lineup on @FoxNews tonight.”
The gun battle in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan began when an individual wearing an Afghan military uniform suddenly opened fire on “the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun,” according to military spokesperson Colonel Sonny Leggett, as quoted by The New York Times.
Legget said that the military was conducting an investigation into the gun battle and that the motive for the attack was not clear. In previous incidents, members of the insurgent Taliban group have infiltrated Afghan military units and staged insider attacks. But whether or not the initial attacker in Saturday’s incident was a Taliban member was also unknown as of late Saturday, according to The Times.
Nangarhar Province has long been a hotbed of Islamic State activity, according to The Military Times, though the Taliban is also known to operate in the region.