Three American soldiers were killed Saturday, and one was wounded, in a so-called “green on blue” attack in which an Afghan soldier apparently opened fire on them. Despite expectations that he would issue a statement, Donald Trump remained silent on the attack all weekend, which he spent at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump also failed to mention the fallen soldiers at his fundraiser for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) on Sunday evening, which cost $5,400 to $100,000 per couple, or during his extensive remarks at a cabinet meeting Monday morning.
At Monday afternoon’s White House Daily Briefing, however, Press Secretary Sean Spicer did acknowledge the sacrifices of these American soldiers with a 21-second statement that made no mention of Trump:
“As we get back to what’s going on today, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the 3 servicemembers that were killed this weekend in Afghanistan. The injury, excuse me. The incident is currently under investigation. But our thoughts and our prayers are with the families of these American heroes who lost their lives in this tragic event.”
Trump’s silence over these deaths is mystifying, as is the fact that even in Spicer’s brief statement, he made no mention of Trump’s thoughts and prayers, or his reaction to the attack.
Just as mystifying, though, is the fact that not a single reporter thought to ask. It is true that Spicer only took questions for a characteristically brief 11 minutes, but the press’s disinterest in this tragedy is nearly as telling as Trump’s. One reporter did yell after Spicer for an “Afghanistan update,” but not about Trump’s disengagement from this incident.
This is not a case of the press shop being caught flat-footed, as they were when a Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia last month. Trump never got around to issuing a statement then, either, but this time, they had all weekend to think it over, and Spicer’s prepared statement makes clear they worked on it.
For an administration that poses itself as military-friendly, this was an odd choice, indeed.