President Donald Trump unleashed a series of tweets Monday morning blasting Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal about his Vietnam War record.
The tweets came just minutes after the senator criticized Trump for “politicizing” the Justice Department and saying that any collusion between Russia and Trump campaign “must be pursued.”
“Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!” Trump tweeted.
“He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie,” Trump added. “He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?”
But the truth about Blumenthal’s military record might be a little more nuanced than Trump let on.
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
During Blumenthal’s senate campaign in 2010, The New York Times reported that some of his past statements about his military service were misleading.
“I served during the Vietnam era,” Blumenthal said in 2008. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” the senator also said in 2008.
In truth, between 1965 and 1970, Blumenthal did receive at least five military deferments, and in April 1970, when his last deferment was in jeopardy, he got assigned to the Marine Corps Reserves.
“The Reserves were not being activated for Vietnam and were seen as a shelter for young privileged men,” David Curry, a professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, told the Times in 2010.
Despite his successful attempts to avoid combat, Blumenthal did serve for six years in the Marine Reserves, where he was stationed at Parris Island for six months and then later in Washington, DC.
- Carlos Barria/Reuters
Blumenthal has not always been misleading about his military service.
“Although I did not serve in Vietnam, I have seen first hand the effects of military action,” Blumenthal said in a speech before the 2010 Times article came out. Some even claimed the misleading statements he made were taken out of context.
Still, the day after the 2010 New York Times article was released, Blumenthal apologized for any past misleading statements.
“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service and I regret that, and I will take full responsibility,” Blumenthal said at a press conference the day after the article was published. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to this country.”
In any event, there appears to be no record of Blumenthal ever crying “like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child,” as Trump tweeted.
Trump, like Blumenthal, also received five military deferments during the Vietnam War for bone spurs and never saw any combat.