Twit­ter shots fired in anger

Trump, who got five draft de­fer­ments, crit­i­cizes a se­na­tor’s mil­i­tary record.

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION - By Noah Bier­man noah.bier­man @la­times.com

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Trump likes to taunt his en­e­mies, but he seems to have a spe­cial place in his Twit­ter thumb for Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, the Con­necti­cut Demo­crat who was talk­ing about the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion on CNN on Monday.

Trump has men­tioned Blu­men­thal in at least four other tweets, on two sep­a­rate dates since Fe­bru­ary, ac­cord­ing to the Trump Twit­ter Ar­chive.

Each time, Trump has ma­ligned Blu­men­thal for mis­rep­re­sent­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice dur­ing the Viet­nam War, an ironic line of at­tack from a pres­i­dent who re­ceived five de­fer­ments from the draft and never served in uni­form.

Trump’s lack of mil­i­tary ser­vice is not unique in the White House.

Pres­i­dents Clin­ton and Obama never served in uni­form, and Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush sparked con­tro­versy with his ser­vice in the Texas Air Na­tional Guard dur­ing the Viet­nam era. He was not de­ployed abroad.

Pres­i­dent Rea­gan spent most of World War II in Cal­i­for­nia, where he pro­duced train­ing films for the Army Air Forces. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, a Navy pilot, was shot down in World War II, and Pres­i­dents Ford and Carter both served aboard ships in the Navy.

None of those pres­i­dents called out oth­ers for their ser­vice, how­ever.

Trump called Blu­men­thal a “phony Viet­nam con artist” in one tweet Monday and said he “de­frauded vot­ers” in an­other. In Fe­bru­ary, he ac­cused Blu­men­thal of a “ma­jor lie” on the sub­ject. In May, he al­leged Blu­men­thal com­mit­ted “one of the great­est mil­i­tary frauds in U.S. his­tory.”

“In­ter­est­ing to watch Se­na­tor Richard Blu­men­thal of Con­necti­cut talk­ing about hoax Rus­sian col­lu­sion when he was a phony Viet­nam con artist!” Trump tweeted Monday.

Blu­men­thal was forced to apol­o­gize in 2010 for say­ing he had served in Viet­nam, when in fact he served in the Marine Corps re­serves dur­ing the pe­riod and was not de­ployed abroad.

Trump’s own mil­i­tary his­tory has come up be­fore, in­clud­ing dur­ing his pub­lic feud with the Mus­lim fam­ily of a fallen sol­dier af­ter the 2016 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion.

Dur­ing the Viet­nam War, Trump got four draft de­fer­ments for be­ing a col­lege stu­dent that al­lowed him to avoid com­pul­sory mil­i­tary ser­vice. Af­ter that, he re­ceived a fifth de­fer­ment for bone spurs in his heels. He called the con­di­tion “temporary” and “mi­nor” in an in­ter­view last year.

“I had a doc­tor that gave me a let­ter — a very strong let­ter on the heels,” he said.

In a 2015 news con­fer­ence, Trump for­got which heel had been di­ag­nosed, be­fore his cam­paign clar­i­fied that it was both of them.

Blu­men­thal, for his part, claimed the pres­i­dent’s “bul­ly­ing” on Twit­ter was not get­ting to him.

“This is­sue isn’t about me,” he tweeted. “It’s about the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­de­pen­dence and in­tegrity,” re­fer­ring to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by Robert S. Mueller III into whether the Trump cam­paign co­op­er­ated with Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 cam­paign.

Alex Edel­man Zuma Press

THE PRES­I­DENT called Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal a “phony Viet­nam con artist.”

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