At a White House news conference, the president also reiterated his claim that reports he had made offensive comments about fallen U.S. service members and called World War I dead at an American military cemetery in France “losers” and “suckers” were a “hoax.”
The Atlantic first reported on the anonymously sourced allegations, which included claims Trump had made disparaging comments while visiting the grave of former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s son at Arlington National Cemetery.
He told reporters that “only an animal would say a thing like that.”
“I’m not saying the military’s in love with me,” Trump added, as he advocated for the removal of U.S. troops from “endless wars” and lambasted NATO allies that he says rip off the U.S. “The soldiers are.”
“The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” he added.
“Some people don’t like to come home, some people like to continue to spend money,” the president said. “One cold-hearted globalist betrayal after another, that’s what it was.”
The remarks prompted a wave of social media reaction and the president later took to Twitter himself, sharing tweets that compared him to former President Dwight Eisenhower.
In his 1961 Farewell Address, Eisenhower cautioned Americans about the rising power of the military-industrial complex.
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience … In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” he said.
His final statement echoed his similar warnings from less than a decade earlier that, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Trump’s own history of selling American-made weapons is extensive, however.
As Newsweek reported Tuesday, Trump has publicly lauded weapons deals with India and Saudi Arabia, and administration officials like Defense Secretary Mark Esper have worked in or for major private sector companies.