Meanwhile, the pool reporter stationed at the White House, Shirish Date of the Huffington Post, emailed this early on the afternoon of Dec. 26 in response to questions from other reporters:

The White House has not issued any daily guidance for today, but the press office did issue a lunch lid until 1 p.m. For those interested: No, as of five minutes ago, there was no Marine posted outside the West Wing.

A Marine stands guard outside the West Wing when the president is in residence.

Huckabee Sanders tells the world

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, confirmed the growing online speculation on Twitter at 2:18 pm, EST, on Dec. 26 with a photo of the president and First Lady in Iraq.

According to the press pool reports, Air Force One didn’t depart Iraq until 10:53 pm local time, or 2:53 pm EST, so the president and First Lady were still on the ground for another 35 minutes after Sanders tweeted.

MAGA hats and political remarks raise ethics questions

Department of Defense rules state that “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and 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.” They are allowed to express their political opinions, and attend political events, when they are “not in uniform.”

Soldiers in the Iraq base and at a second stop at a military base in Germany, however, were pictured clutching “Make America Great Again” hats and even holding up pro-Trump banners, unusually political activities for active-duty soldiers. A US Air Forces Europe spokesman said the hats the soldiers in Germany held were “personal items” that they wanted the president to sign, not political symbols.

While in Iraq, the president gave a politically tinged speech that reminded some of a campaign rally.

The politicization of the event raised questions from some former White House ethics experts about whether Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, and not US taxpayers, should be footing the bill.

Soldiers were thrilled…

In a video that Trump tweeted after Air Force One left Iraq, he and the First Lady are shown surrounded by soldiers taking photos with their phones. They greeted the couple with applause, and responded warmly to his speech.

…but Trump exposed Navy Seals on Twitter

Among the soldiers were Navy Seals, however, and military veterans said the president should have blurred their faces, Newsweek reports. ”The real names, faces, and identities, of personnel involved in special operations or activities, are usually a closely held secret in a combat zone,” Malcolm Nance, a former US Navy intelligence specialist, told the magazine.

Trump lied about military paychecks

During his Iraq speech, Trump took credit for the troops there getting a raise. “You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years,” Trump said. “More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

Military pay has “risen every year for three decades,” notes in an article fact-checking Trump’s remarks.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis were not pleased

The trip also did little to improve Trump’s once-promising relationship with Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, or with the other governing coalitions in the country where the US has had a military presence for years. Trump and the prime minister only spoke by phone, after a disagreement over where to meet, Al Jazeera reports.

And an opposition political party called Trump’s trip a “flagrant and clear violation of diplomatic norms and shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government.”

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