(CNN)Departing from previous U.S. presidents’ morale-building Thanksgiving visits or phone calls to deployed U.S. military members expressing gratitude for their service, President Donald Trump instead steered the conversation toward his belief that the U.S. is being victimized by migrants at U.S. borders, judges he doesn’t like, other country’s trade policies, etc.
Speaking with a US general in Afghanistan, Trump likened the fight against terrorists to his efforts to prevent a group of migrants from illegally entering the United States, and he assailed federal judges who have ruled against his administration.
The President also pressed the commanding officer of a Coast Guard ship in Bahrain on trade before touting his trade policies and arguing that “every nation in the world is taking advantage of us.”
After the call wrapped, Trump entertained more than two dozen questions from reporters and once again, discredited a CIA assessment about the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump has not shied away from politicizing the military in the past, and on Thursday, he drew on U.S. men and women in uniform to justify his deployment of nearly 6,000 U.S. troops to the southern border.
Without evidence, he painted Air Force Gen. David Lyons as a proponent of his hard-line immigration policies after Lyons said US troops are fighting in Afghanistan to prevent terrorists from reaching “our shores again.”
“Large numbers of people are forming at our border and I don’t even have to ask you, I know what you want to do, you want to make sure that you know who we’re letting in. And we’re not letting in anybody essentially because we want to be very, very careful,”
Trump said, speaking to Lyons over the phone. “You’re right, you’re doing it over there. We’re doing it over here.”
The topic brought Trump to another familiar airing of grievances, as he complained over the phone to the general that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has “become a big thorn in our side.”
“It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace.”
Earlier this week, a judge from the Northern District of California — where cases get appealed to the 9th Circuit – issued a temporary restraining order – blocking the Trump administration from barring migrants who cross into the US illegally from seeking asylum.
Trump told reporters that on this Thanksgiving Day, he is thankful “For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” adding, “I’ve made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”