Trump speaks with military members on Christmas Eve
President Trump on Tuesday held a video teleconference with U.S. military members around the world, sending them well-wishes over the holidays and thanking them for their service.
“I want to wish you an amazing Christmas and a happy New Year,” said Trump, who is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. “You are tremendous warriors and we appreciate it so much.”
“Because of your brave and selfless service, Americans can celebrate Christmas in safety and in peace,” Trump told the service members. “We all appreciate you so much.”
Trump, sitting at a desk in an office at Mar-a-Lago decorated with an American flag, spoke with members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, who were displayed on a large video monitor.
The president touted the recently signed defense bill that gives the military a pay raise and establishes Space Force, a sixth branch of the military long sought by the Trump administration.
He described the pay raise as the “the largest in over a decade,” joking that service members could send it back if they don’t want it.
“You don’t have to take it. If you want you can turn it back into the government,” Trump said.
He spoke to the service members for about 30 minutes, calling on members from each branch to talk and ask him questions.
An Army soldier stationed in Kuwait asked Trump what he got first lady Melania Trump for Christmas this year. Trump replied that he got her “a very beautiful card” and that he was “working on” getting a Christmas present.
“I got her a beautiful card. … A lot of love. We love our family, and we love each other. We’ve had a great relationship, hopefully like you do with your spouses,” Trump said.
“I’m still working on a Christmas present. There’s a little time left. Not much, but there’s a little time left,” he added.
The video conference included Navy sailors in the Gulf of Aden; Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand province; airmen stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri; and Coast Guard members at Air Station Sitka in Alaska.
Trump thanked the airmen in particular for their contributions in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying they “crushed ISIS from the air, kept the Taliban running scared and conducted countless lethal airstrikes against the enemies of freedom.”
Trump concluded the call by touting his administration’s efforts to develop new submarines and other military equipment.
“We are building a couple of submarines, by the way, that will be the most lethal weapons in the world,” Trump said. “Hopefully we never have to use them from that standpoint … but we’re going to have them very soon.”
“I think we’re poised for tremendous success in the United States, and enjoy that new equipment we’re getting you,” he added. “It’s made in the U.S.A. — every bit of it.”