Experts have criticised the Trump administration after a new book has revealed that former First Lady Melania Trump sat in the Situation Room during a major military operation in October 2019.
Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s memoir Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies was published on Tuesday.
Ms Trump was sitting in the Situation Room during the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and subsequently nudged the administration to boost the participation of a dog that took part in the operation, The Hill noted.
Mr Miller was the special assistant to the president for counterterrorism and transnational threats in 2019. In his memoir, he writes that Ms Trump joined former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley in the Situation Room.
“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Mr Miller writes. “I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation.”
As people began sharing predictions of what was about to happen, one graphic suggestion made Ms Trump “look up in horror,” according to Mr Miller.
The raid came to an end when American troops, along with a combat dog called Conan, trapped al-Baghdadi, who was holding two of his children when he used an explosive vest to blow himself up, also killing two of his wives.
Mr Trump asked how the bodies would be taken care of, worried that ISIS would be arguing that the two women were innocent, to which General Milley said they would completely destroy the building, Mr Miller writes.
The then-president subsequently asked how they should announce the successful operation, with Ms Trump suggesting that he make a statement in the Diplomatic Room the following day during the time that the Sunday political shows were on the air.
“You should talk about the dog,” she told Mr Trump, according to Mr Miller. “Everyone loves dogs.”
Mr Trump then called the dog “wonderful” and “talented” during the next day’s press briefing and Conan was later honoured during a White House ceremony the following month.
When it was later revealed that Mr Trump got the gender of the dog wrong or the wrong dog had been brought to the White House, Masha Gessen wrote a piece for The New Yorker entitled Conan, the Gender-Fluid Hero Dog.
“Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the President, refused to commit to a gender for Conan,” Gessen noted. “Pressed by reporters on Tuesday, she said, ‘I won’t do that, because then you’ll say that I was talking about somebody’s sex or gender, so I’m not doing that.’”
The former director of the White House Situation Room and Chief of Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, Larry Pfeiffer, tweeted: “Hmmm…what would I have done if President Obama had brought Michelle into a sensitive meeting there? Don’t know. Never had to think about it cuz it NEVER would have happened.”
Former US Attorney Joyce Vance wrote: “Melania in the situation room, top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago that Trump knew were there & refused to return. Private meetings with Putin where Trump insisted translator’s notes be destroyed. The Trump administration was a national security nightmare.”
“What other overseas military operations did the former first lady play a role in?”Vanity Fair politics correspondent Bess Levin wondered in a piece for the outlet.
According to Ms Levin, Mr Trump “has a well-established disdain for animals in general and dogs in particular”.
Since the administration of President William McKinley took office in 1897, every president has had a dog, apart from Mr Trump, according to The Washington Post.