Trump is the first president since 2002 not to visit troops on Christmas

Updated

Last month, Donald Trump was in France for events marking the 100th anniversary of World War I, and he was supposed to visit an American cemetery. It was, to a certain degree, the whole point of the president’s trip. The president, however, did not attend the event.

Two days later, when many Americans recognized Veterans Day, Trump could’ve visited Arlington Cemetery – a short drive from the White House – but he didn’t. The president later expressed some regret, but he said he was “extremely busy on calls for the country.” The nature of those calls, including whether they actually happened, is unclear.

Yesterday, NBC News added to the unfortunate list.

On Christmas Day, President Donald Trump took part in a long-running practice of presidents who called troops stationed around the country and the world.

But he broke from a recent tradition of actually visiting troops and wounded warriors. He did so in 2017, when he visited wounded troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Dec. 21 (and invited Coast Guard service members to play golf at his course in West Palm Beach, Florida).

By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel around Christmastime.

The Republican also hasn’t yet visited troops in a combat zone, as both of his recent predecessors had at this point in their respective presidencies. [Update: see below.]

What we didn’t know when the NBC News report first ran was why the president didn’t tweet much yesterday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced this afternoon via Twitter, “President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.”