While her colleague Matt Lauer was asking Donald Trump easy questions and getting ripped online for hectoring Hillary Clinton, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s contribution to the “Commander-in-Chief forum” on Wednesday actually accomplished the event’s goal — putting veterans’ concerns in this year’s presidential election front-and-center.
“The reality is that we need to drill deeper. We need follow-up questions, right?” said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “This is exactly the kind of follow-up question we needed.”
Rieckhoff’s group hosted the forum, and Maddow’s telecast veered away from typical election fare to feature veterans like one he identified as Kristen, who said she was concerned about Trump’s failure to address equality within the US military.
Kristen, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, said that a key part of US operations in that country depended on troops who could connect with local communities — several of whom are women or transgender service members, or who come from diverse religious backgrounds.
“I wasn’t assured that he would put policies in place to ensure a level playing field for all troops who can meet the standards and serve our nation in the roles that we need them to,” she said of Trump.
“By specifying Trump there, do you feel like you are hearing things that you like more from Clinton on that?” Maddow asked. “Or are you not hearing anything from either of them on that?”
Kristen explained that Trump “was not referencing any policy that I have heard,” and mentioned the Military Justice Improvement Act, which was introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) three years ago as a measure to address sexual assaults within the military by shifting them to the purview of independent investigators.
“I didn’t hear anything that has been part of the conversation over the last several years,” Kristen said to Maddow.
Watch the discussion, as aired on Wednesday, below.