A retired general slammed President Donald Trump’s response to four American soldiers being killed in an ambush in Niger in an appearance on CNN Tuesday.
CNN host Chris Cuomo noted that Trump “falsely claimed that his predecessors never called grieving military families… He made the remark when asked why he has remained silent for 12 days after an ambush in Niger of four US soldiers.”
Retired US Army Lt. General Mark Hertling didn’t mince words when asked what bothered him about Trump’s response.
“First of all, the president lied, then he attempted to blame the generals for telling him what he lied about,” Hertling said. “And then the most important thing is he was making excuses for not having made contact after 12 days. All three of those things are not a good look for a commander in chief. You asked me to be your military analyst, this is the simplest thing I’ve analyzed yet.”
“It was just not a good thing for a commander, which the president is, to do the kinds of things he did yesterday — I would put it in a shameful category, to be honest with you,” he added. “My colleagues and peers, both retired and active, felt the same way.”
CNN Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr pointed out that the story gets more problematic beyond just Trump’s silence and blame game.
“There is an investigation under way to find out how this firefight erupted, was there bad intelligence, was this a failed mission,” Starr said, after noting that “13 days later” we still “don’t know what happened.”
Starr noted that the body of one of the men killed, 25-year-old Army Sgt. La David Johnson, “was left out for 48 hours before anybody could go back and get it.”
“How does a man get left behind?” Starr questioned. “This is the big question that the military has to answer now.”
“The president talked about it being tough on him, well it is tough on the families,” Starr said, adding that Johnson left behind a young widow, two children, and a third child on the way.
“What is tough on the president, it is now very tough on this young widow trying to raise three children and all the families of the fallen.”
“That’s the kind of stories each one of these kids have,” Hertling agreed. “It is important to be the consoler-in-chief as well as the commander-in-chief. Every commander up the chain of command writes these letters and it’s important for the president to be one of them. And 12 days later, that’s too long. That’s unfortunate.”
After Cuomo played a clip of Trump complaining how “tough” situations like this are for him, Starr replied, “Well it’s supposed to be tough!”
“You send troops into combat as the commander-in-chief, it is supposed to be tough,” she said, before bringing the conversation back to the investigation.
“They need to find out were 12 men sent into combat with poor intelligence. How did the 12 walk into an ambush by 50 ISIS fighters, being in a firefight for 30 minutes, only with their rifles while the ISIS fighters had rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns? How did one man get left behind?”
Watch the clip below: