CNN's Barbara Starr Criticizes Troops, Trump For Hat Signing in Iraq: "How Did The Red Hats Get There?"

|

CNN Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr said "a lot of questions" have been raised following President Trump's surprise visit to troops in Iraq where he signed 'Make America Great Again' hats and flags.

"There's a lot of concern because military policy, military regulation prohibits military members in uniform from doing anything that can be construed as a political endorsement. That's what you want from your U.S. military. They're not a political force," Starr reported.

"How did the red hats get there? Some people are saying, well, the troops just brought them and wanted to get them signed. But even if that is the case, the question remains, there were commanders, there were senior enlisted personnel on the scene, they know the regulation. Why did this happen?" Starr asked.





President Trump responded to criticism in a tweet Thursday evening: "CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military in Iraq and Germany. If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign. Can you imagine my saying NO? We brought or gave NO hats as the Fake News first reported!"





KATE BOLDUAN, CNN: So there are the facts there, once and for all. We'll likely still hear it again.

We did see the president signing during his trip, signing some campaign slogan hats for soldiers and also a picture from a "Bloomberg" reporter of one holding a Trump campaign flag. A reporter wrote on Twitter that that person dropped the flag after seeing her take the photo. What are you hearing from the Pentagon about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN: Well, as you look at this video of the president signing these red hats that apparently say, "Make America Great Again," a campaign political slogan, not a U.S. government policy, if you will, not a U.S. government hat. There's a lot of concern because military policy, military regulation prohibits military members in uniform from doing anything that can be construed as a political endorsement. That's what you want from your U.S. military. They're not a political force. They serve the country. They do not serve a political agenda. So there's a lot of questions from Iraq, where he was first, to Ramstein, Germany, where he stopped overnight. We saw these red hats again.

How did the red hats get there? Some people are saying, well, the troops just brought them and wanted to get them signed. But even if that is the case, the question remains, there were commanders, there were senior enlisted personnel on the scene, they know the regulation. Why did this happen? Why did nobody step in and say not such a good idea? It's against regulation for military people to be involved in politics. The president may want to politicize them, but maybe commanders should have stopped it -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thanks so much. It's good to see you. Thank you.


Starr also fretted about the 'red hat' incident with CNN's Jim Acosta on Wednesday.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN: And Barbara, we saw the president signing a campaign hat, a red hat, his "Make America Great Again" hat. Is that unusual, to see the president doing that on base? Does this run the risk of the president, you know, facing some accusations that he's turning some of this into a campaign stop? What do you think?

BARBARA STARR, CNN: Well, you know, this is very interesting. The pool reporters traveling said that the troops brought the hats with them, including one hat that said "Trump 2020." We will have to see if that actually proves to be the case. The question is if they brought them or if the president brought them. What commander allowed that to really happen? Because this is very much against military policy and regulation. Troops are not supposed to be involved in political activities. The U.S. military is not a political force. And there's no question, the saying "Trump 2020" and "Make America Great Again," those are political slogans of a Trump campaign. They are not governmental sayings, to say the least.

ACOSTA: Right. And John, I mean, what would the concern be if something like that is going on, do you think? Or is this just, you know, a soldier is there, he's got a hat in his locker and he runs over and says, hey, when am I going to have another chance for the president to sign one of these things?

RET. REAR ADMIRAL JACK KIRBY: Yes, look, I mean it kind of blurs the line, because Trump is his slogan, and where is that line? But Barb is right. It is in fact a campaign slogan, that's a campaign item, and it's completely inappropriate for the troops to do this.

ACOSTA: Not supposed to do it.

KIRBY: Not supposed to do this. And I'm sure their boss is seeing that. They're not going to be happy about it.

But look, the president has to take some ownership of this, too. Every time he's around military audiences, he tends to politicize it, and he brings in complaints and grievances from outside the realm of military policy. This was wrong for him to do it, as well. I'm going to be really interested to see, Jim, when we get video of his comments to the troops, his actual speech in Al Asad, and I hope that he didn't politicize those sets of remarks, but we have to wait and see.


Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives