Trump holds photo op with military dog after protecting accused war criminal

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Trump kept his distance from Conan, the heroic special forces dog.

Just hours after ousting the head of the Navy for refusing to protect an accused war criminal, Donald Trump attempted a White House photo op with a dog.

On Monday, Trump had reporters gather in the Rose Garden to announce that he had given a "medal and a plaque" to Conan, the Special Forces dog who played a vital role in the raid to get ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"I actually think Conan knew exactly what was going on," Trump said of his presentation.

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As he spoke, Trump visibly kept his distance from the dog, even as Mike Pence petted the animal.

Trump did not allow all of the praise to go to the dog and bragged once again that "100% of the ISIS caliphate" has been defeated under his presidency, a claim that senior military leaders have repeatedly shot down.

Trump has latched on to the popular story of the dog's actions during the raid since news broke of the animal's involvement.

In October he posted a photoshopped image created by the right-wing Daily Wire of Trump putting a presidential medal on the dog.

"Our 'K-9,' as they call it, I call it a dog," Trump said in comments after the raid.

Despite his clear desire to be photographed with Conan, Trump is the first president in decades not to have a pet. The Obamas had two dogs, as did the Bushes, and the Clintons had a dog and a cat.

Trump's photo op came just a few hours after Trump suffered another military black eye by ordering the Secretary of Defense to remove Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

In his departure letter, Spencer said Trump's meddling in internal military disciplinary affairs to protect a SEAL accused of war crimes violates the service's "sacred oath" to "defend the Constitution."

Trump pardoned SEAL Eddie Gallagher after he was convicted of posing for photos with a dead Iraqi teenager and accused of war crimes.

The pardon was opposed by current and former military leaders who have expressed concerns that Trump's intervention — prodded by Fox News — could set a precedent for other troops deployed around the world.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.