Pete Buttigieg served as a Naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan. Now he’s saying that the man he wants to replace as president faked an injury to get out of military service—a bit of Memorial Day yellow ribbon tied around his criticism of Donald Trump for considering pardons for servicemen accused of war crimes.
“There is no question, I think to any reasonable observer, that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving,” Buttigieg told Martha Raddatz on Sunday on ABC News’ This Week. “You have somebody who thinks it’s alright to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war, and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country.”
Pete Buttigieg on President Trump: "You have somebody who thinks it's alright to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war, and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it. That is an assault on the honor of this country" https://t.co/LqbnX8uTU4 pic.twitter.com/YBcQfr4Vsz
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 26, 2019
Trump received five draft deferments that kept him out of Vietnam, four while in college and one for bone spurs in his foot after graduating. Two daughters of the New York podiatrist who diagnosed Trump with the medical exemption said he did so as “a favor” to Trump’s father, Fred, who was his landlord. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump told The New York Times, “I had a doctor that gave me a letter—a very strong letter on the heels,” but he never provided a copy to the paper.
“Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery,” Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress in February.
Buttigieg made similar comments to the Washington Post earlier in the week.
“You believe he faked a disability?” asked reporter Robert Costa.
“Do you believe he has a disability?” Buttigieg responded. “Yeah. Yeah. At least not that one,” he said jokingly.
"You believe [Trump] faked a disability [to avoid serving in Vietnam]?"@PeteButtigieg: "Do you believe he has a disability? At least not that one…"
Yes, yes, yes. 👇👇 pic.twitter.com/X6ls0k0Rvo
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 23, 2019
Of course, there is nothing wrong with not serving in the military; the problem is the collection of privileges that allowed Trump and others in his class to escape the war.
Buttigieg’s comments are noteworthy in light of the news that Trump is considering pardoning a Navy SEAL facing charges for shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq, and other service members convicted or accused of war crimes, such as one who killed 14 unarmed Iraqis.
“For a president, especially a president who never served, to say he’s going to come in and overrule that system of military justice undermines the very foundations, legal and moral, of this country,” Buttigieg said.