It matters little whether orders to hide the U.S.S. John S. McCain from President Donald Trump’s sight during his U.S. Navy base visit came directly from Trump or, as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaneywould have it, they were issued by a “23- or 24-year-old person” on the White House advance team looking to shield the touchy president from any reference to McCain, his political nemesis. Either way, Trump has gotten the U.S. military to pay him the deference a king expects.
Trump has steadily erased the boundaries that separate the military from politics. Last Thanksgiving, during a holiday phone call with troops, he browbeat the unfortunate servicepeople on the other end of the line with his views on migrants, trade and judges.
In a December visit to troops in Iraq and Germany, he broke the standard rules prohibiting the politicizing of the military by giving overtly political speeches. In May, the Daily Caller reported his plans to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow troops to perform police work on the border.
Pentagon press briefings, once at least a weekly occurrence, haven’t been held for more than a year. Why? Senior officials tell CNN’s Barbara Starr that “televised briefings stopped because of worries that TV watcher-in-chief, President Trump, would get angry if he saw something he didn’t like.”