CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has criticized President Donald Trump Wednesday for suggesting he would have made a successful general, noting the president has never served in any real military capacity.
Speaking on his Anderson Cooper 360 show, the journalist suggested we will never know if Trump would make a good military leader, largely because the president has long avoided active service and battlefields.
“The world will never know General Trump, in part because the president never set foot in a combat theater until last week with his trip to Iraq,” said the host.
“The closest he came to serving in uniform was his teen years as a student in the New York Military Academy, which was a prep school,” he added. “His parents sent him there to straighten out his behavior, apparently.”
Trump made his comments during a bizarre cabinet meeting held in front of the media Wednesday. At one point, he criticized his military leaders for their strategy in Afghanistan, where in some areas the Taliban and ISIS are fighting one another for territorial control.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you let them fight? Why are we getting in the middle of it?’” the president said. “They go in and they end up fighting both of them. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” he continued. “I think I would have been a good general, but who knows?”
Trump also took aim at his former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine general who left the administration last month citing differences in opinion between himself and the president on foreign policy.
In Wednesday’s session, Trump suggested he had “essentially” fired Mattis from his position because he had done “not too good” in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces remain mired in a seemingly unwinnable war against the Taliban.
Trump has been criticized for his bellicosity and apparent readiness to resort to military action abroad, despite having never served in the U.S. military and receiving five draft deferments from service in the Vietnam War—four for college and once for bone spurs in his heels.
Nonetheless, he has repeatedly gone on the offensive against military leaders, particularly those he considers partisan enemies.
Earlier this week, he launched an attack on retired Army General Stanley McChrystal, who formerly led special operations troops in Afghanistan and has been consistently critical of the president.
Responding to a tweet posted by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that described McChrystal’s latest criticism of the president, Trump tweeted, “’General’ McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!”