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Wesley Clark says Trump not serving in Vietnam 'might have been for the best' in light of Russian bounty reports
Former U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark said President Trump dodging the draft during the Vietnam War "might have been for the best" in light of reports that he was aware of intelligence that Russia paid secret bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops and failed to act.
"President Trump receives well-deserved criticism for failing to serve his country in Vietnam," Clark, a highly-decorated general who served as the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO under President Clinton, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.
"Yet, given the lack of loyalty to the troops he has displayed in recent months, that might have been for the best," Clark added. "Were he in A Company back then, he wouldn't have charged across that bridge - he would have hung back and let the rest of us fend for ourselves. I and the others might never have made it home."
Last week The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence found that the Russian military intelligence unit GRU had been secretly paying bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Trump maintained relations with Russia while he was reportedly aware of this.
The Times and other outlets reported that Trump was briefed on the intelligence, which the White House has denied. On Wednesday, Trump called reports on the intelligence a "hoax," though other administration officials have not publicly doubted the accuracy of the intelligence.
Clark noted that in the president's tweets, "the welfare of the nation and of our troops did not come up."
"Unfortunately, the president's first reaction was not, 'How can I protect the troops?'" Clark wrote. "It was, 'How can I protect myself?'"
Clark has been critical of the administration's handling of military matters, including the way federal law enforcement and military personnel cleared protesters to make way for Trump to walk to St. John's Church across from the White House last month.
A West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Clark also ran for president during the 2004 election, but dropped out early that year while endorsing eventual Democratic nominee John Kerry.