Trump mostly veers away from politics in West Point commencement speech

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump's West Point commencement address was controversial as soon as it was planned months ago.

The main concern was that he was forcing cadets back to campus prematurely amid the coronavirus pandemic. That sentiment lingered up until Saturday when the ceremony took place, but the nationwide protests against police brutality and the military's uncertain security role during the unrest added another layer of possible contentiousness. But the president mostly veered away from overtly discussing politics in his remarks; he didn't mention anything about conflicts between him and high-ranking commanders, the possibility of renaming bases that currently honor Confederate officers, or about the protests themselves, aside from a vague reference to "turbulent times."

Instead, he praised the Army's durability, diversity, and unity, as well as his administration's efforts to increase the military's budget and withdraw from conflict zones.

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As for the coronavirus situation, in the two weeks before Saturday's event, the cadets quarantined in groups of about 250 upon returning to campus, and all were tested for the virus; at least 15 tested positive. But the event itself apparently went smoothly — the cadets wore masks, sat several feet apart, and saluted Trump as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas instead of shaking hands. Family and friends watched online. Read more at Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.