Buttigieg On Trump's Disabled Vet Slam: 'Latest In A Pattern Of Outrageous Attacks'

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg responded to recent reporting by The Atlantic in a profile of Gen. Mark Milley that Trump was apparently disgusted that Milley allowed a wounded veteran to perform “God Bless America” during a ceremony he attended.

Here’s more on that report from MSNBC: Disabled veterans seem to get respect from everybody but Donald Trump:

In The Atlantic’s profile of Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general shared an anecdote that serves as a shocking reminder of former President Donald Trump’s disdain for disabled people, even people whose disabilities are the result of their military service. Trump, Milley said, didn’t appreciate Milley’s choice of veteran Luis Avila to sing “God Bless America” during Milley’s welcoming ceremony as chairman. In the course of five combat tours, Avila had lost a leg and suffered brain damage, two heart attacks and two strokes.

In a report that has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, at that ceremony, Avila’s wheelchair almost toppled over on the rain-softened ground, Milley said, and multiple people intervened to keep him from falling. Trump congratulated Avila after he sang, Milley told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, but then, he said, Trump said loud enough for multiple people to hear, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” According to Milley, Trump told the general to never again let Avila appear in public.

In a 2020 report for The Atlantic, Goldberg quoted sources who said that, while planning a 2018 military parade, Trump wanted wounded veterans excluded because “Nobody wants to see that.” Goldberg also reported that Trump’s decision not to visit American military interred in a French cemetery in 2018 wasn’t because the rain made it unsafe to fly, as Trump claimed, but because the cemetery was “filled with losers,” a claim Trump vehemently denied.

Buttigieg, like most of us, wasn’t surprised by Trump’s behavior, but he was disgusted by it, and here’s his response when asked about Trump’s “kind of a rambling post” on social media by State of the Union host Dana Bash. (“Kind of rambling” — really Dana?):

BUTTIGIEG: It’s just the latest in a pattern of outrageous attacks on the people who keep this country safe.

And September puts me in a reflective mood, because it was actually tomorrow nine years ago now that I got back to South Bend after my one tour in Afghanistan. I served with people who did five, six, seven tours, some of them after being injured.

I served with a guy who had the fin of a rocket go through his tricep while he was standing in — he was standing in Ghazni province. And, miraculously, the rocket didn’t blow up and kill him. But he was eager to get back onto his next tour when I got to serve with him.

I, in an airport, ran into someone I served with who basically had her leg shot off, and with her new leg. When I ran into her, I asked her how she was doing, she said: “The Navy fixed me up just fine.” And she went right onto her next assignment.

These are the kind of people who deserve respect, and a hell of a lot more than that, from every America and definitely from every American president.

And the idea that an American president, the person to whom service members look as a commander in chief, and the person who sets the tone for this entire country, could think that way or act that way or talk that way about anyone in uniform and certainly about those who put their bodies on the line and sacrificed in ways that most Americans will never understand, and I guess — I guess wounded veterans make President Trump feel uncomfortable.

When I encounter somebody who put their body on the line and paid a price for this country, I feel about this big, because I see what they have done and I see again and again and again their willingness to continue giving. But those are exactly the kinds of people we should lift up, because their commitment could help unify the country.

And we need voices, whether it’s ordinary people, service members or political leaders, who are interested in unifying, not dividing Americans.

We’ve all known for ages how Trump feels about vets. We all remember his shot at McCain back in 2015 when he said he likes “people who weren’t captured.”

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