US president Donald Trump did one television interview during the 75th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in Normandy, France. It was with controversial Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
He used the interview to lash out at other Americans, attacking former FBI special counsel Robert Mueller in particular. It was an odd decision, given the circumstances—Mueller served in the Vietnam War and left the military with honors.
“Do you care” if Mueller testifies in front of Congress, Ingraham asked Trump. The two sat outdoors, in front of rows of white crosses of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which honors the US military men who died in WWII.
“He made such a fool out of himself, the last time,” Trump said, speaking of Mueller’s public statement on May 29, when he appealed to Congress to pick up where his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the US election and obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign ended. “But what people don’t understand what he had to do was the letter to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong,” Trump said, before lighting into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who he called a “disaster.”
It is unclear what testimony or letter Trump was talking about. Mueller has never testified to Congress. The May 29 statement was part of a press conference at the Department of Justice headquarters (albeit one that included no questions from the press).
Veterans criticized Trump’s attack on Mueller during a trip that was supposed to commemorate military lives lost. “Nothing is beneath him,” VoteVets, a political group that says it represents 600,000 veterans and their families, wrote on Twitter.
Mueller, 74, enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1966, weeks after graduating from Princeton University. He served as an active-duty officer in the Vietnam War for four years, departing as a captain, the Washington Post detailed in a deep dive into his military records. Mueller was shot in the thigh, awarded the Bronze Star for bravery, and inducted into the Army’s Ranger Hall of Fame in 2004.
Trump, 72, infamously avoided serving in the Vietnam War. He registered for the draft at the time, as required by law, yet avoided military service thanks to four education deferments, and then a final doctor’s report that physically disqualified him from combat, citing “bone spurs.”
The choice of Ingraham as an interviewer at the WWII remembrance site is also being questioned by media watchdogs. She was criticized last week for supporting fringe right-wing voices in an on-air segment, including Paul Nehlen, a self-described white supremacist, who she called a “prominent voice” that censors are trying to silence.
Nehlen recently wore a shirt supporting the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter to advertise his allegiances, CNN reports, and told a podcast, “It’s going to take a lot of people all pushing in the same direction to do what needs to be done, and that is to rid white lands of Jews.”