Then-first lady Melania Trump watched the 2019 raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the White House Situation Room and suggested that her husband’s administration promote the story of the “hero dog” that took part, according to a new book.
Melania Trump watched the operation alongside then-President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller writes in his forthcoming book, according to an excerpt obtained by the Hill.
Miller, then a special assistant to the president for counterterrorism and transnational threats, said the first lady’s appearance in the Situation Room that October day was hard to miss.
“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Miller writes. “I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation.”
The raid at a compound in Syria ended when US special forces and a military dog named Conan cornered al-Baghdadi in the hideaway and the terror mastermind ignited an explosive vest while holding two of his children.
All three were killed, along with two of al-Baghdadi’s wives.
According to Miller, Trump asked how the bodies would be handled, fearing that ISIS would consider the women to be innocent casualties. In response, Milley said the building would be pulverized.
The then-president also discussed how the operation to take out al-Baghdadi should be announced, with Melania Trump recommending he make a public statement in the Diplomatic Room the next morning.
“You should talk about the dog,” the first lady said, according to the account in “Soldier Secretary: Warnings from the Battlefield & the Pentagon about America’s Most Dangerous Enemies,” out Tuesday.
“Everyone loves dogs,” Melania added.
Trump hailed Conan the next month, welcoming the Belgian Malinois to the White House and giving the canine a special medal.
“It was a flawless attack, al-Baghdadi’s gone, and we gave Conan a medal and a plaque. He’s a very, very special dog,” Trump said at the time.