Melania Trump watched 2019 ISIS raid from Situation Room, suggested ‘hero dog’ story in media
Melania Trump in October 2019 sat in and watched the U.S. raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a compound in Syria, according to a new memoir set for release this week.
The then-first lady was sitting directly inside the White House Situation Room and later suggested that the administration promote a story about the “hero dog” involved in the raid.
The details of the scene are included in “Soldier Secretary,” a memoir by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller set for release on Tuesday. The Hill obtained an advanced copy of the book.
Miller, who in 2019 was the special assistant to the president for counterterrorism and transnational threats, writes that Melania Trump joined several top-ranking officials to watch the raid from the Situation Room.
Inside the room were her husband, then-President Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Miller wrote. “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.”
Several people in the room began throwing out predictions and providing commentary about the raid as U.S. forces closed in on the compound where al-Baghdadi was hiding, including a graphic description that Miller said caused the first lady to look “up in horror.”
The raid ended when U.S. troops, led into the compound by a combat dog named Conan, cornered al-Baghdadi, who blew himself up with an explosive vest while holding two of his children. Two of his wives also died in the explosion.
President Trump asked how the bodies would be handled, expressing concerns about ISIS casting the two women who were killed as innocent casualties, but Milley said they would pulverize the building, according to Miller.
When the president asked how they should announce the success, Melania Trump suggested that he make a public statement from the Diplomatic Room the next morning during the Sunday news shows.
“You should talk about the dog,” Melania Trump told her husband in the room, according to Miller’s account. “Everyone loves dogs.”
The “hero dog” story was widely circulated in the media after news outlets reported Conan was injured by an exposed live wire.
President Trump also talked about Conan during the press briefing the next day, referring to him as a “wonderful” and “talented” dog who had been wounded in the raid.
The former president later honored Conan during a White House ceremony in November 2019.
“Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies,” will be released on Tuesday and is available for preorder on Amazon.
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