After criticism, Trump says Pentagon will not shut down military newspaper

(Reuters) – After an outcry from U.S. lawmakers, President Donald Trump on Friday said his administration would not be shutting down the Stars and Stripes military newspaper as announced by the Pentagon earlier this year.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” Trump, who is running for re-election in November, said on Twitter.

“It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!” he added.

The independent military newspaper had been expected to stop publishing at the end of September after the Pentagon announced in February that it would be cutting its funding.

Trump’s tweet comes a day after the Atlantic reported that he had referred to Marines buried in an American cemetery near Paris as “losers” and declined to visit in 2018 because of concern the rain that day would mess up his hair.

Trump, who has touted his record helping U.S. veterans, has strongly denied the report.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper urging him to reconsider closing the newspaper, which provides print and online news to U.S. troops around the world.

Esper, who has clashed with Trump on a number of issues, had defended the decision to defund the newspaper earlier this year.

Stars and Stripes receives funding from the Defense Department but is editorially independent.

There is increasing concern that Trump is politicizing America’s military, which is meant to be apolitical, ahead of the election.

Those concerns came to a head in the past month after Trump threatened to deploy active duty troops to quell civil unrest in U.S. cities over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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