- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2018

CNN analysts cast a disapproving eye Wednesday on U.S. soldiers in Iraq who asked President Trump to sign their red “Make America Great Again” hats at his surprise Christmas appearance.

“Troops bringing Trump hats to sign may violate military rule,” said the Wednesday night headline on the CNN website.

On CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Jim Acosta, former Obama administration official and retired Rear Admiral John Kirby called it “completely inappropriate” for troops to seek autographs on the hats popularized in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

“It is, in fact, a campaign slogan, that is a campaign item, and it’s completely inappropriate for the troops to do this,” Mr. Kirby said. “Not supposed to do this. And I’m sure their boss is seeing that. They’re not going to be happy about it.”

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr called it “very much against military policy and regulation.”

“The pool reporters traveling said that the troops brought the hats with them, including one hat that said ‘Trump 2020,’” said Ms. Starr. “We will have to see if that actually proves to be the case. The question is, if they brought them or if the President brought them: What commander allowed that to really happen?”

She added that, “Troops are not supposed to be involved in political activities. The U.S. military is not a political force.”

The conservative Media Research Center accused CNN of a double-standard, arguing that the network would have reacted differently if the president had been Barack Obama.

“If it were troops handing ‘Yes We Can’ items to Obama for him to sign, CNN would either be touting it or not talking about it because it would be fine and a given that the President had their support,” said MRC’s Nicholas Fondacaro. “But not for this President. This is CNN.”

Mr. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made an unannounced visit late Tuesday to Al Asad Airbase in Iraq to thank the troops for their sacrifice and help them celebrate the holidays.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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