WASHINGTON — In a Senate-floor speech Saturday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., blasted President Trump as a “five-deferment draft dodger” and accused him of trying to bait North Korea into a war, putting both the military and the national security of the United States at risk.

It was a moment of fire for Duckworth, a veteran who lost both of her legs in 2004 while serving in the Iraq War, and who has advocated for military and disability issues since she was elected to national public office in 2012.

Duckworth said Saturday her speech was prompted by a tweet Trump had posted Saturday morning accusing Democrats of “holding our Military hostage” to have “unchecked illegal immigration.” The tweet was just one of many partisan attacks Trump launched over the weekend trying to blame Democrats for a congressional budget stalemate that had led to a shutdown of the federal government.

That Trump would accuse Democrats – like herself – of not caring about the military was galling, Duckworth said.

“Does he even know that there are service members who are in harm’s way right now, watching him, looking for their commander in chief to show leadership, rather than to try to deflect blame?” Duckworth said. “Or that his own Pentagon says that the short-term funding plans he seems intent on pushing is actually harmful to not just the military, but to our national security?”

The junior senator from Illinois said Trump’s attempts to pin the shutdown on Democrats, especially by using the military, were examples of the president failing to take responsibility.


“I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible,” Duckworth continued. “Sadly, this is something the current occupant of the Oval Office does not seem to care to do – and I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”

Duckworth saved her zinger for the end, a dig at the medical reason Trump has claimed was why he was able to avoid military service for the fifth time.

“And I have a message for ‘Cadet Bone Spurs,'” Duckworth said. “If you cared about our military, you’d stop baiting Kim Jong Un into a war that could put 85,000 American troops, and millions of innocent civilians, in danger.”

Since Trump took office, he and Kim have repeatedly exchanged threats – and insults, at times – about each other’s nuclear arsenal. Trump has called Kim “Little Rocket Man” and a “madman.” In return, Kim has called Trump a “deranged U.S. dotard” and, most recently, a “lunatic” and a “loser.”

But the escalating rhetoric has also led many lawmakers to worry about the possibility of a war with North Korea.

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