Former Army JAG says Trump's tweet to 'shoot down gunboats' wasn't just embarrassing — it was 'unlawful'
President Donald J. Trump salutes U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael L. Howard. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

As the Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump’s Fox News inspired tweet declaring he has instructed the Navy to “shoot down” Iranian gunboats was embarrassing, and deserving of the mockery it received. Anyone who served in the military, and pretty much anyone at all knows you don’t “shoot down” gunboats.


But former veterans and one former Army legal advisor, known as a JAG, say Trump’s threat could constitute an “unlawful” order.

Glenn Kirschner, an NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst served in the U.S. Army as a JAG for six years. He also served as an Asst. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

This is not the first time Trump has threatened or issued an unlawful order.

In early January Trump threatened he would use the U.S. Military to target and destroy Iranian cultural sites. Experts say had he gone through with it, it would have been illegal, unlawful, and a war crime.

And in 2017, when Trump threatened he would “totally destroy” North Korea, the top U.S. nuclear commander said “he would resist President Donald Trump if he ordered an ‘illegal’ launch of nuclear weapons.”

In 2018, Trump claimed immigrants were throwing rocks at U.S. Forces on the southern border, and announced, “We will consider that a firearm,” and declared “our military fights back.” In other words, he would have the Army shoot the unarmed immigrants.

Retired Army Gen. Mark Hertling said, “It would be an unlawful order.”