UPDATE [12/26/2018, 5:01 p.m. EST]: This afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump had indeed visited military troops, arriving at Al Asad Air Base near Baghdad on Wednesday morning. The headline has been changed to reflect this update. For more information, check out IJR Red’s coverage of the visit here.
President Donald Trump broke a recent presidential Christmas tradition by failing to visit American service members at either a hospital or U.S. military base for the holidays.
Trump’s decision to skip any visit with the troops marks the first time since 2002 that a president has failed to do so, NBC News reported.
In 2017, Trump visited service members at Walter Reed National Medical Center before heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort for the holidays, where he would also host local Coast Guard members for a round of golf. The president declined to head to his Florida resort this year due to the ongoing government shutdown, but he also seems to have opted against any visit to Walter Reed or local military base in Washington.
Though Trump did not personally visit with any service members, he did hold an Oval Office conference call with troops stationed around the world on Christmas Day.
Watch the video below, via the Daily Mail:
Former President Barack Obama made a habit of spending the holidays in his childhood home state of Hawaii. Obama visited troops and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay during every Christmas of his presidency.
For former President George W. Bush, the tradition began in 2003 and ran through the remainder of his presidency. With U.S. service members fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan under his watch, Bush visited the wounded at Walter Reed every Christmas after 2003.
Trump has also made waves by failing to visit U.S. troops in a war zone since taking office nearly two years ago. One former senior administration official told the Washington Post in November that the president was “afraid” of such trips. But when asked by a reporter the following day if he really was afraid, Trump committed to visiting a war zone in the future, but no plans have been made public as of yet.