The Slatest

Buttigieg: “No Question” Trump Falsified Disability Status to Avoid Serving in Vietnam War

Democratic presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a talk at LaGuardia Community College on May 22, 2019 in New York City.
Democratic presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in a talk at LaGuardia Community College on May 22, 2019 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg said there is no doubt in his mind that President Donald Trump faked a disability in order to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. “There is no question, I think, to any reasonable observer that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving,” Buttigieg said in an interview with ABC News’ This Week. The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful went on to describe the commander in chief as “somebody who thinks it’s all right to let somebody go in his place into a deadly war and is willing to pretend to be disabled in order to do it.” That amounts to “an assault on the honor of this country,” Buttigieg, who served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, added.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana had previously accused Trump of faking his disability during an interview with the Washington Post. “You believe he faked a disability?” reporter Robert Costa asked. “Do you believe he has a disability?” Buttigieg answered.
“Yeah. Yeah. At least not that one,” he said jokingly. Trump was exempted from military service five times during the Vietnam War, including a medical deferment for having bone spurs. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress that when he asked Trump for medical records, “he gave me none.”

In the interview that aired Sunday, Buttigieg also criticized Trump for considering pardoning servicemembers who have been accused or convicted of war crimes. “The idea that being sent to war turns you into a murderer is exactly the kind of thing that those of us who have served have been trying to beat back for more than a generation,” Buttigieg said. “Frankly, his idea that being sent to fight makes you automatically into some kind of war criminal is a slander against veterans that could only come from somebody who never served.”

Buttigieg also described the current situation in Washington as a “continuing horror show.” He said Trump “has turned the entire thing into a reality show” and Democrats have to “completely change the channel and make sure we respond to all of the distractions and the nonsense coming out of the White House.” The mayor, however, also recognized that the strategy has served Trump well. “He provokes us in ways that make it very hard for us to do anything but respond in kind, the nicknames, the tweets, the insults,” he said. “And what we’ve got to remember is that the more we’re talking about him, the less we’re talking about voters.”