The old controversy — that President Trump had been the first president not to make a Christmastime visit to the troops since 2002 — died a quick death when Trump and the first lady showed up in Iraq Christmas night, so it was up to the media to scramble for another controversy.
Robby Starbuck caught this one brewing: it looks like Trump had flown over a bunch of 2020 campaign swag to hand out to the troops, which is a big no-no.
Trump signing MAGA hats for the troops in Iraq pic.twitter.com/bDUIk94jpR
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) December 26, 2018
Troops are prohibited from "politicking" in uniform. Trump is putting them in an incredibly awkward and uncomfortable position here, because — unlike Trump — most of these men and women actually care about abiding by rules and laws. https://t.co/1qEvSaSCsw
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) December 26, 2018
Here’s Philippe Reines (again), who earlier explained how the president’s trip to Iraq earned him “ZERO credit,” assuming that Trump loaded up this transport with Trump 2020 hats and patches and handed them out to every soldier he encountered.
trump signed MAGA 2020 hats. Safe bet our troops in Iraq aren’t buying and shipping hats to themselves 6,000 miles away in case he drops by.
Which means rbis was another taxpayer funded trump commercial. And unethical.
Next Up: A fundraising tweet. pic.twitter.com/XNoIUdSGJa
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) December 26, 2018
According to The Hill, though, the hats already belonged to the troops, there were only a handful, and they asked.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump also used the roughly three-hour trip to deliver holiday greetings to service members in Iraq, where the U.S. has kept a sustained military presence since the 2003 invasion launched by former President George W. Bush.
The first couple entered the dining hall on base to cheers and applause and they spent time speaking with service members and posing for selfies after the president received a briefing from military and diplomatic personnel.
The president signed several red “Make America Great Again” hats service members had brought as well as a “Trump 2020” patch.
So troops brought their own MAGA hats to have signed by the president during his surprise visit? Should we punish them, Trump, or both?
Already see some Democrats angry Trump signed MAGA hats in Iraq but soldiers brought the hats themselves and asked for them to be signed so they’re really just upset at soldiers for having different political views. It’s the holiday season, they should try not to be the Grinch. pic.twitter.com/JqcfVTSn1c
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) December 26, 2018
Imagine being mad at everything @realDonaldTrump does? That is just not normal human behavior; how miserable!
— Can't Stop, Won't Stop Winning ?? (@Pumped_4_Trump) December 26, 2018
This is what happens when you close down mental institutions and give them twitter
— Dr. Dirk Diggler M.D. (@DrDirkDiggler) December 26, 2018
But there must be outrage:
OMGOSH!! Of all the things they could/would have truly been thankful to him for bringing, HE BROUGHT MAGA HATS?
— Robin Wright ? (@Happy2BNana) December 26, 2018
There has to be a campaign violation here.
— Matt Scharfstein ?? (@MattAsherS) December 26, 2018
Traitor Trump is using them as pawns. No surprise there.
— News View (@NewsView100) December 26, 2018
Damn him for this.
— Grouchy Political Wonk (@GrouchyWonk) December 26, 2018
Wondering if the hats were freebies, or merch for sale
— Paul Kaplan (@Editright) December 26, 2018
Again, according to The Hill’s correspondent, a few troops brought hats they already owned.
Always on the grift.
— QuietRevolutionForDecency (@arapahoemissy) December 26, 2018
— Elston Gunn (@aescheylus) December 26, 2018
JFC. Photographic proof he is violating campaign rules. If Obama did this, the @GOP heads would be exploding. Where is their outrage?!!
— Kurt ?️??? (@trukurt1965) December 26, 2018
Obama signed magazine covers of himself in Kuwait, i think we can cool the outrage on soldiers getting autographs. It's ridiculous. If they wanted Obama gear autographed i'd be happy for them because that's what they want and they got it. For what they sacrifice, lets just shush.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) December 26, 2018
The media might try to ride this for a week, but we don’t think this controversy is going to take them very far.
* * *
Yep, it looks like CNN is trying to make this a thing:
Video footage and the written report of Trump's visit with service members in Iraq showed signing of hats and a "Trump 2020" patch.
But troops' requests for the autographs could brush up against Department of Defense guidelines for political activities. https://t.co/jUUqF91bcX
— CNN (@CNN) December 27, 2018
Narc News Network https://t.co/VbGN2fL64V
— Joe Gabriel Simonson ☃️ (@SaysSimonson) December 27, 2018
You can go straight to hell https://t.co/hdy0ztVMG6
— Christmas Red ? (@jswifty250) December 27, 2018
Do we have money on whether the K-File and Darcy team are working to dox this guy?
— hey baby it’s woke outside (@MatlockFletcher) December 27, 2018
Liberals were angry Trump allegedly didnt visit the troops, but he did, and then they were angry at the troops for liking Trump.
— Dan ?? (@danieltobin) December 27, 2018
If troops reacted like this to Obama, CNN would not run this story or headline. And that bias is why CNN and the entire industry can DIAF. Literally anything remotely positive within 100 miles of Trump has to be destroyed by CNN and the left. https://t.co/DEWKxndU6r
— Harold Stickeehands (@StickeeNotes) December 27, 2018
Please run segments encouraging punishment for troops who wanted the president's autograph. https://t.co/JDTJS5Yxm2
— Anthony Bialy (@AnthonyBialy) December 27, 2018
Boy, we sure hope some soldiers are dishonorably discharged over this.
‘The Left is eating crow’: POTUS & FLOTUS visited Iraq, and guess why Philippe Reines thinks Trump ‘deserves ZERO credit’ https://t.co/TXjWCLemaH
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) December 26, 2018