The George Soros-funded organization Vote Vets, which purports to stand for veterans but is a leftist organization, is twisting comments made by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in an interview Sunday morning on CBS about Americans injured in Iran’s ballistic missile strike on U.S. installations in Iraq.
Iran’s ballistic missile strike, which consisted of at least a dozen ballistic missiles launched at at least two U.S. installations in Iraq in retaliation by the regime in Tehran for President Donald Trump’s strike taking out Quds Force leader and infamous terrorist Qasem Soleimani, claimed no American lives. There were upwards of 30 injuries of varying degrees, however, including 16 who returned to duty quickly, another 9 who were transported to Germany for treatment and evaluation, and another 8 who were brought home to the United States for treatment and evaluation.
After the Pentagon’s announcement of the injuries–which it described as TBIs, or Traumatic Brain Injuries–Trump commented during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the injuries were “not very serious”
“I heard they had headaches,” Trump said at a press conference in Davos. “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.”
During Cotton’s appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday morning, anchor Margaret Brennan asked the senator–who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before his election to Congress later–asked him about Trump’s characterization of these injuries.
“I want to ask you on another matter, Iran. We now know from the Pentagon that the number is 34 Americans who were injured when Iran filed- fired those ballistic missiles into a- a base and injured these Americans. The Pentagon now says half of them are receiving treatment. What is their status? How serious are the injuries?” Brennan asked Cotton.
“So the military does a lot better job than it did 15 or 20 years ago when it comes to brain injuries,” Cotton replied. “You know, when I was in Iraq, if your truck got blown up, you went and got your eyes checked out, were probably sent on your way, do a much better job today than they did then.”
Brennan then played Trump’s comments from the press conference on this, and asked him if Trump should “apologize” for “calling it nothing serious.” Cotton said the president should not apologize, and noted that the president was not dismissing their injuries just describing them.
“He’s not dismissing their injuries. He’s describing their injuries,” Cotton said.
Here’s a transcript of what happened next in the interview, courtesy of CBS News:
MARGARET BRENNAN: He said they’re headaches and not very serious.
SEN. COTTON: I think he’s describing their injuries. He’s not dismissing their injuries. Head injuries can be on anywhere–
MARGARET BRENNAN: He said headaches, I don’t consider them very serious.
SEN. COTTON: Well, that’s like saying that having a flesh wound is not very serious than having a–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, veterans groups and I know you’re a veteran and I know you–
SEN. COTTON: And veterans–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –know people who have suffered from TBI–
SEN. COTTON: –veterans can have a different point of view.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As do I. Don’t you think it’s serious? That the president may need to apologize?
SEN. COTTON: No I mean, if it isn’t- if they are in fact, all these injuries are not serious, if they’re on the less serious side of the scale than the severe traumatic side of the scale, the president is just describing what happened. And I’m not dismissing them.
After that, Brennan asked Cotton point blank if a TBI is a “serious injury.” Cotton replied, “Yes.”
“But it’s- again, it’s there’s a big scale of that that can be, you know, returned to duty in one day–or have severe traumatic lasting injury,” Cotton added. “And I think he’s describing, thankfully, what end of the scale that lies on.”
Cotton’s entirely reasonable explanation of this, laying out how President Trump was just describing the severity of the TBIs that the 34 Americans suffered in the Iranian retaliatory strike for the Soleimani killing, sparked attacks from leftist groups such as Vote Vets and leftist media figures such as Vox’s Aaron Rupar.
These attacks on Cotton leave out the critical context in which Cotton–a decorated veteran who served in two different wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan–does talk about the seriousness of TBIs, and that he believes Trump was just describing the scale of severity on which these service members’ injuries fell. It’s unsurprising to see Vote Vets mischaracterize comments from a GOP senator, given the fact that the group is funded by Soros, the leftist billionaire. In fact, a Politico article reprinted on the organization’s website literally admits that Vote Votes is “financed” by Soros’ foundation. A 2016 piece by the Center for Responsive Politics noted that Vote Vets’ PAC spends millions upon millions of dollars “boosting” Democrats nationwide and was attacking President Trump in the 2016 election.
Cotton, now the junior U.S. Senator from Arkansas and previously a U.S. House member, joined the U.S. Army as an infantry officer after he graduated from Harvard Law School and worked for a corporate law firm.
Cotton’s campaign website, describes his military service:
The tragic attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred during Tom’s final year of law school, and he began to reconsider his future plans. After a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals and a short time in a private law practice, Tom joined the United States Army as an Infantry Officer where he spent nearly 5 years on active duty.
Tom completed combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served with the 101st Airborne and a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Between his two combat tours he served as a platoon leader with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, the unit responsible for military honors funerals. Tom’s military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Ranger Tab.
While Vote Vets has been out attacking Cotton by misrepresenting what he said, the organization has been promoting former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s comments on this front deliberately–and in a partisan nature–stating that Buttigieg is “right.”
The group openly endorsed Buttigieg–who is running for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination–earlier in the cycle, in its first ever presidential campaign endorsement, citing his history serving in the military as well.