Former President Donald Trump used the racially-motivated Buffalo mass shooting to make a misleading boast about the lack of deaths in Afghanistan during his presidency, a video shows.
Speaking in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, the former president took to the stage shortly after an 18-year-old opened fire on customers and employees, killing 10 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
“I think they had a tragic event in Buffalo, just as I’m coming on the stage, tragic event in Buffalo with numerous people being killed,” Trump said, per the video.
“In 18 months in Afghanistan, we lost nobody,” the former president continued in an apparent non-sequitur. He went on to talk about negotiating with Abdul Ghani Baradar the co-founder of the Taliban.
Trump’s claim that nobody died in Afghanistan during 18 months of his presidency is misleading.
It’s not clear which 18-month period Trump was referring to. Insider reached out to Trump’s post-presidency office for clarification but received no response.
He may have been referring to claims popularized on social media, described by USA TODAY, in which Trump supporters said there were no US military deaths between February 2020 and August 2021. According to a USA TODAY fact check, these claims are misleading.
There were four US deaths recorded in Afghanistan during that period, according to the Pentagon’s casualty tracking system, per USA Today, though not in combat situations. Eight of those months were during President Joe Biden’s time in office.
If Trump was referring to the last 18 months of his presidency, a period between July 2019 and January 2021, this is also factually incorrect.
In 2020, 11 military deaths were recorded in Afghanistan. Throughout the final 18 months of Trump’s presidency, a total of 22 US service members were reported dead in Afghanistan.
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California criticized Trump’s comment in a tweet on Saturday night.
“This is a ridiculous comparison by the former President,” Lieu, an Air Force Reserve Command colonel, wrote. “Also, Trump is a liar and disrespects the 64 brave US servicemembers who died under his watch in Afghanistan by ignoring their deaths in his statement: 11 in 2020; 24 in 2019; 14 in 2018; 15 in 2017.”