The USA Today report comes on the heels of a bombshell story by The Atlantic that Trump disparaged service members who had died in battle. The Atlantic reported that Trump could not understand why fallen or wounded soldiers were worthy of honor and called them “losers” and “suckers.” Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly denied the accounts, though The Washington Post and The Associated Press have corroborated parts of the story.
That story, coupled with the Defense Department memo, shook Washington on Friday and infuriated several House Democrats who had served in the military.
“It’s something that all of us here have read,” Rep. Ted Lieu said of Stars and Stripes. “I read it in active duty while serving in Guam, and it is something that is improving the quality of life for military families and military personnel, and I can’t understand why we would get rid of the Stars and Stripes.”
Trump’s relationship with the military has long been fraught because of his incendiary remarks and comments that appear to reveal a misunderstanding of the military’s responsibilities to the presidency. Trump notably tried to put on a military parade through Washington and used tanks as props during his Fourth of July celebrations in 2019 — both moves that were criticized as using the military for political theatrics.
He also disparaged the late Sen. John McCain’s experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, saying, in 2015, “I like people who weren’t captured.”