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Bannon invokes troops for political gain as Trump stays silent on soldiers killed 10 days ago

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In the 10 days since four Green Berets were ambushed and killed in Niger, President Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to attack a sports commentator, call for a curtailing of the free press, denigrate his political enemies, sell a book, draw attention to Vice President Mike Pence’s public protest at taxpayers’ expense, and congratulate himself for a job well done.

Yet he’s failed to say anything about the four U.S. service members killed in Western Africa: Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson. About a dozen troops were ambushed on Oct. 4 while on a joint patrol with Nigerien troops; five Nigerien soldiers were also killed.

This marks the deadliest-yet engagement for U.S. troops since Trump took office, and yet Trump himself has issued no tweets or personal statements about the matter, 10 days after the fact.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former senior advisor and current political operative Steve Bannon has tried to shame GOP lawmakers for critiquing the president while he oversees troop deployments. The Breitbart editor name-checked Sen. Bob Corker while speaking to the Values Voters Summit on Saturday, chastising him for criticizing the commander-in-chief while “we have young men and women in harm’s way” and “kids in the field.”

On the day Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright’s body was brought back to the U.S. in a coffin draped with an American flag, the president was golfing with Sen. Lindsay Graham.

One service member was separated from the group and went missing for two days, during which military officials believed he was still alive. An Army spokesperson told reporters “there was a full-court press by all of (the Department of Defense), the Nigerien government, the Department of State and the French to help us recover our lost one,” before Sgt. La David Johnson’s body was eventually recovered.

That “full-court press” did not include a statement from the President on the matter, although on Oct. 5, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told media that “our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the freedoms we hold so dear.”

An official investigation is underway to determine how troops found themselves in an apparent ambush outgunned, under-supported, and lacking adequate access to medical care. French troops and aircraft, not American, retrieved the casualties and provided other air support.

In 2012, when four Americans were killed in Benghazi, then-President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton received those caskets and addressed families at Joint Base Andrews.

“Nobody can run and hide on this one,” Bannon told values voters Saturday, referring to Republicans who dared criticise the president while U.S. troops are serving abroad. Bannon did not mention why the president himself would remain silent about soldiers killed in action. 

Trump is again golfing today with Sen. Graham, according to pool reporters.

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