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‘No Question’ Trump Faked Disability to Avoid Military Service Says Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg speaking at a fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pete Buttigieg speaking at a fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2019. (Photo: Lorie Shaull)

“I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on season seven of Celebrity Apprentice when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan.”

2020 Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg condemned President Trump for considering war crime pardons in an interview Sunday with ABC, and slammed the Commander-Iin-Chief for allegedly falsifying his disability status to avoid service in Vietnam.

Treatment of War Criminals Would Set Precedent

“For a president, especially a president who never served, to say he’s going to come in and overrule that system of military justice undermines the very foundations, legal and moral, of this country. Frankly, his idea that being sent to fight makes you automatically into some kind of war criminal is a slander against veterans that could only come from somebody who never served,” said Buttigieg.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the Trump administration “made expedited requests” for the paperwork needed to issue multiple pardons to servicemen accused of murdering unarmed citizens and prisoners. Trump has already pardoned Michael Behenna, a former first lieutenant in the Army convicted for killing an Iraqi detainee in 2009, drawing condemnation from human rights groups. The president was questioned about war pardons on Friday before his trip to Japan.

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard and long. We teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly. So we’re going to take a look at it. It’s very possible that I’ll let the trials go on and I’ll make my decision after,” said the president.

The Daily Beast reported that Trump’s interest in the pardons is partly influenced by “a months-long lobbying campaign” by Iraq War veteran Pete Hegseth, a Fox & Friends weekend co-host with close ties to the president. But while Fox encourages the pardons, the military itself does not.

“Absent evidence of innocence or injustice, the wholesale pardon of U.S. service members accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously, Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us.” Gen. Martin Dempsey, who served as President Obama’s senior military adviser, said in a tweet.

Buttigieg, commonly referred to as “Mayor Pete,” said Trump’s potential pardons are an “affront to the basic idea of good order and discipline, and to the idea of the very thing we put our lives on the line to defend.”

Trump and the Vietnam War

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan with the Navy Reserve. In an hour-long interview with the Washington Post on Thursday, Buttigieg criticized President Trump’s moral character and accused him of lying to avoid military service.

“I mean, if he were a conscientious objector, I’d admire that, but this is somebody who, I think it is fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of a multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place,” said Buttigieg.

Trump received five draft deferments for the Vietnam War, four academic and one medical, for having bone spurs in his foot. Last year, the New York Times reported that the children of the podiatrist who wrote the letter on Trump’s bone spurs said their father did it as a favor to Fred Trump, President Trump’s father, the owner of the doctor’s office space. One of the podiatrist’s daughters told the Times he received preferential treatment from Fred Trump on rent after helping his son evade the draft.

“I know that dredges up old wounds from a complicated time during a complicated war, but I am also old enough to remember when conservatives talked about character as something that mattered in the presidency, and so I think it deserves to be talked about,” the South Bend mayor said.

In the Washington Post interview, Buttigieg refused to personally criticize any of his 23 Democratic rivals, choosing instead to focus his ire on the president, saying, “It’s actually getting harder and harder to find a policy of this administration that most Americans don’t disagree with.”

“I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on season seven of Celebrity Apprentice when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan. But at the end of the day, it’s not about him,” said Buttigieg.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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1 Comment

  1. Ronnie May 27, 2019

    Him and a million other young men. The Draft system was a cruel way of destroying and young person. I will never vote for anyone that uses the President of the U S. For his own political advancment.

    Reply

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