Trump honors military dog from raid that led to ISIS leader's death

Trump honors military dog from raid that led to ISIS leader's death
© UPI Photo

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE on Monday welcomed to the White House the military working dog wounded in last month’s raid against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria.

“Conan came over from the Middle East,” Trump said at an impromptu ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, referring to the Belgian Malinois dog by its name. “We just gave Conan a medal and a plaque."

“Conan is a tough cookie. And nobody is going to mess with Conan," Trump said.

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He was joined at the Rose Garden event by Vice President Pence and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpWhy we cherish — and guard — the White House gingerbread house The Hill's 12:30 Report: Job growth soars in November Impeachment hearing didn't go as Chairman Nadler planned MORE. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro was on the White House colonnade observing the event.

Trump said he met with some U.S. special forces at the White House, but that their identities could not be revealed to the media.

“For obvious reasons, they can’t be out front of the media,” Trump said. “They did a fantastic job. Conan did a fantastic job. And we are very honored to have Conan here and to give Conan a certificate and an award that we will put up in the White House.” 

The dog will return to service, Trump said, because he is “prime time” in terms of age.

The event was mostly light-hearted, and Trump did not respond to shouted questions about the recent ouster of his Navy secretary. Pence occasionally rubbed the dog’s head as it sat a few steps from the Oval Office.

The president joked that Conan was trained to attack if reporters opened their mouths, and later said to one journalist that he was lucky the dog was not in a bad mood. 

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As officials turned to reenter the White House, Melania Trump responded to a shouted question and said, smiling, that she would not be keeping the dog to give to her son, Barron, as a pet.

U.S. special forces carried out a secret raid against al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria over the last weekend in October. Trump announced a day later that al-Baghdadi had been killed, offering a detailed account of the operation in a Sunday morning speech from the White House. He said no U.S. troops were killed or injured but that a “wonderful” and “talented” dog had been wounded.

Trump has lauded the military dog as an “American Hero” and previously teased a White House visit for Conan.

Trump shared a declassified photo of the dog on his Twitter account last month and later posted an altered image showing him bestowing a medal on the animal, revealing the dog’s name as Conan.

--Updated at 1:09 p.m.