U.S. Air Forces Europe said Thursday that U.S. troops who asked President Trump to sign their red “Make America Great Again” hats violated no military policy.
“There is no rule against Airmen bringing personal items to be signed by the president,” said USAFE in a statement, as reported by Stars & Stripes.
CNN and other media outlets erupted after Mr. Trump signed the MAGA hats and other pro-Trump items during his stops this week to visit troops at bases in Iraq and Germany.
“MAGA hat, campaign rhetoric cast cloud over Trump Iraq visit,” said Thursday’s CNN headline.
CNN analyst John Kirby, a retired rear admiral and former Obama administration official, on Wednesday called it “completely inappropriate for the troops to do this,” saying the hats represented campaign items.
Mr. Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the troops brought their own personal items to be signed, and that the White House did not distribute the hats.
“Can you imagine my saying NO?” Mr. Trump tweeted on Thursday.
A Defense Department directive prohibits military personnel from engaging in political activity while in uniform, but the USAFE said the soldiers did not wear the hats as they asked Mr. Trump to sign them.
“Any time the commander in chief offers the opportunity to meet with Airmen, such as this official holiday visit by the President and First Lady, Airmen are welcome to participate,” the USAFE statement said. “No policy violations have been brought to our attention at this time.”
Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted U.S. military personnel this week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, where they posed for photos and signed personal items.