A month later, Trump's 'no Americans were harmed' boast unravels

In early January, Trump assured the public that "no Americans were harmed" in the Iranian missile attack. With each passing day, the claim looks worse.
Image: US troops
US troops walk as a US C-47 Chinook helicopter flies over the village of Oreij, south of Mosul on Feb. 22, 2017.Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP - Getty Images file

In early January, following an Iranian missile strike, Donald Trump assured the public that "no Americans were harmed" in the attack. As regular readers know, a week later, the administration clarified that 11 U.S. servicemembers had been transported to two hospitals for treatment for brain injuries.

Soon after, that number was revised, climbing from 11 to 34. The tally was then revised again, from 34 to 50. Soon after, the total climbed from 50 to 64. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the Pentagon released an even higher number.

Dozens more U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following last month's Iranian missile attacks that targeted American forces at two Iraqi bases, the Defense Department said Monday, bringing the total to 109.Of those, 76 patients have since been returned to duty, the Pentagon said in a statement. There were 45 more cases since the department's last report, and all 109 patients have been diagnosed with what it called "mild traumatic brain injury."

There's been no official explanation as to how and why the president got this very wrong. As a Washington Post analysis added yesterday, "It's true that information comes in slowly -- especially information about traumatic brain injuries, symptoms of which can take days to manifest. But Trump didn't just say that there were no injuries reported at that time; he said there were no injuries, period. When you go out there just hours after the retaliatory strikes, you want to be judicious and careful about what you can confirm, because you may not know everything."

Speaking to reporters two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon takes these types of brain injuries "very seriously." His boss appears to have a different perspective.

Indeed, after Trump’s “no Americans were harmed” assertion was proven false, a reporter pressed the president for some kind of explanation. As we've previously noted, the Republican told reporters that he’d heard that some of the servicemen and women had experienced “headaches.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars denounced Trump’s dismissive attitude toward the troops’ brain injuries and called for a presidential apology. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America soon followed with a similar message of its own.

To date, Trump still hasn't expressed any regrets for his reaction.