Trump has nothing to say about U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Somalia, golfs instead


U.S. Navy SEAL Senior Chief Kyle Milliken was killed in action in Somalia on Thursday, yet despite requests by the press for a statement, Donald Trump has yet to utter a syllable about the loss.

Donald Trump and his administration have yet to acknowledge the sacrifice of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, a 38 year-old Navy SEAL who was killed in action Thursday while repelling an attack by al-Shabab fighters. Two other U.S. servicemembers were wounded in the attack.

Chief Milliken is the first U.S. casualty in Somalia since the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, yet when the press asked about the tragedy on Friday, Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to be caught flat-footed.

Wall Street Journal White House Correspondent Carol Lee asked Sanders if the White House had any comment, and while Sanders insisted that Trump was "briefed" on the issue, she appeared to be winging her answer, calling the slain sailor a "soldier," bragging about defense spending, and repeatedly expressing appreciation for "all" military servicemembers.


Lee's follow-up question punctured the veil of boilerplate, however, as Sanders was unable to answer a very basic question:

LEE: The Pentagon said today that a Navy SEAL was killed in Somalia, the first in quite some time. Does the White House have a comment on that? Was the president briefed on that? Can we expect a statement from him?

SANDERS: The president has been briefed on that. He spoke directly with General McMaster earlier today. Obviously, we first and foremost want to express our deepest condolences and our deepest appreciation for all of the men and women in the military and the ultimate sacrifice that they paid, particularly this soldier and all of the others. The president has made it certainly a major priority to protect the men and women who protect us. That's one of the reasons that he wanted to put so much emphasis on rebuilding the military and that was a priority for him in the budget. And again, our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to all of the men and women in uniform, particularly this family.

LEE: Can we expect a statement from him?

SANDERS: From the president? I don't know at this time if he — I know he doesn't want to get ahead of the notification process, and that's still taking place place at this point.

Given this press office's relationship to the truth and Sanders' ad-libbed response, whether or not Trump was actually briefed on the incident remains an open question. Prior to every briefing, White House spokespeople prepare a detailed briefing book on any questions that might come up, and Sanders was clearly unprepared for this one. Additionally, there was no daily intelligence briefing on Trump's schedule for Friday.

What is certain is that even after the Pentagon identified Chief Milliken on Saturday morning, Trump still failed to issue a statement, and failed to make any mention of a casualty in Somalia during his Friday remarks aboard the USS Intrepid, or during his weekly address.

Trump did, however, find time to play golf at his Bedminster, NJ, Trump National Golf Club, ditching the press in the process:

We also know that Trump has outsourced his role as commander-in-chief to "the generals," and that his professed concern for military veterans has manifested itself in policy betrayals.

The lack of regard, and the apparent lack of awareness entirely, for the death of Chief Milliken is yet another example of a dangerously disengaged president, and a wholly unprepared White House.