Trump ‘violates protocol’ by politicising Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq and Germany, critics say

'The president turned his first visit to our troops into another cringeworthy Donald Trump reality-show special' 

President Donald Trump speaks to U.S. troops in Iraq

Donald Trump is facing accusations that he was "playing politics" with the military during his surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany on Christmas Day.

In his statement to troops, Mr Trump singled out red “Make America Great Again” caps in the crowd of military personnel and accused Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

“When that starts happening, it’s like the politicisation of the judicial branch,” said Mark Hertling, a retired three-star Army lieutenant general.

Visiting troops abroad is a presidential tradition in which the commander in chief puts aside politics to thank a military that represents a broad spectrum of the country.

But Mr Trump’s political comments and his encouragement of supporters in the crowd shattered those norms, according to critics.

“He has to understand that there exist some audiences that should not be addressed as part of his base, because they are not,” Mr Hertling said. “It’s a violation of protocol by the president.”

Mr Trump also turned a customary Christmas greeting into an attack against Democrats, who are refusing to fund a wall along the southern border. The stalemate over the wall, Mr Trump’s signature campaign promise, has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

“I don’t know if you folks are aware of what’s happening,” Mr Trump said. “We want to have strong borders in the United States. The Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders.”

Nancy Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, accused Mr Trump of turning uniformed troops into scenery for a campaign speech. “The president turned his first visit to our troops into another cringeworthy Donald Trump reality-show special.”

Some commentators on Fox News also criticised the president for injecting politics into the event.

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The political paraphernalia on display has raised questions at the Defence Department about violations of military protocol by the troops who greeted him.

One woman in uniform at Ramstein Air Base in Germany welcomed Trump with a “Make America Great Again” flag, according to a photograph posted on Twitter.

A directive from the department prohibits active-duty personnel from engaging in “partisan political activities”. It also advises that “all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.”

Washington Post

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