Ex-Obama national security official: Trump confused ‘troop visit with a campaign rally’

CNN political analyst and former Obama national security veteran Sam Vinograd slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE on Wednesday for appearing to have "confused" his unannounced visit with troops in Iraq "with a campaign rally." 

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“Well, Jim, he can certainly check the box that he physically made it to Iraq, but what he actually did on the ground while he was there is just as important,” Vinograd, who served as the Director of Iraq in former President Obama's National Security Council, told CNN's Jim Acosta.

“The president seems to have confused in some way this troop visit with a campaign rally by raising things like the border wall and things he has done for them,” she added.

She later reiterated her sentiment on Twitter. 

Vinograd's comments came after Trump made an unannounced trip Wednesday to Iraq, his first visit to troops in a combat zone as president.

Trump's visit came amid criticism of his national security strategy and recent shakeups in his national security team.

Vinograd said presidential trips are meant to show the military the country's appreciation of troops' service and to remind them of how “their ongoing mission is so critical to the safety and security of the American people.”

“There was a lot of gaslighting about what U.S. forces are doing in other theaters and less of a focus, frankly, on the ongoing stabilization mission and counterterrorism mission that the forces in Iraq are performing,” Vinograd continued.

Trump, during his roughly three-hour trip, spoke about the partial government shutdown that was triggered by his demand for funding for a wall along the U.S.–Mexico border.

"We need a wall. So when you say, 'How long is it going to take?' When are they going to say that we need border security? When are the Democrats going to say it? Don't forget, the Democrats all agreed that you need a wall, until I wanted it," Trump claimed in Iraq. "Once I wanted it, they didn't agree." 

Trump also defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

The president later posted a video on his Twitter account which showed him taking photos and signing autographs for troops stationed in Iraq.