Donald Trump has been skewered by TV host Katy Tur after he was caught telling a humiliating "lie" to American soldiers over Christmas.
Donald Trump has been skewered on TV after he was caught telling a humiliating "lie" to American soldiers.
The controversy began during Donald and Melania Trump's surprise Christmastime visit to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq this week.
The President received a warm welcome from the US forces stationed there. But his speech to the troops was criticised for being too political - and one line in particular stood out.
Trump told the servicemen and women he had secured a 10 per cent pay rise on their behalf — and claimed it was their first raise in more than a decade.
"You protect us. We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, 'cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you've ever received," Trump said.
"You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.
"They had plenty of people that came up, they said, 'You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 per cent, we could make it 2 per cent, we could make it 4 per cent.
"I said, 'No. Make it 10 per cent. Make it more than 10 per cent.' Cause it's been a long time, it's been more than 10 years. Been more than 10 years, that's a long time."
There was only one problem — it was all false.
American military personnel have received a pay rise every year since 1983.
The increase was 2.4 per cent this year - less than a quarter of the '10 percent' Trump claimed to have secured - and will be 2.6 per cent in 2019.
The whopping fib didn't go unnoticed.
It caught the attention of TV reporter Katy Tur, who unleashed on Trump while guest hosting MSNBC's MTP: Daily program.
The 35-year-old anchor, who penned the book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History about her time reporting on Trump's presidential campaign, accused the leader of deliberately spreading misinformation.
"God, he's just full of it," Tur said after watching a clip of the president sharing the incorrect news.
"None of that is true.
"Charitably speaking, could the President have just gotten his numbers confused? Is he just that bad at numbers? Or is he deliberately lying?"
She didn't stop there, repeatedly returning to the President's claim even after her show's guests went off on tangents.
"If you told me I'm getting a 10 per cent raise, and I'm only getting a 2.6 per cent raise, I'd be pretty pissed off. Especially if I was in war zone risking my life every day," she said.
"To hear that I'm getting a 10 per cent raise from the commander-in-chief? The top of my echelon? I would be kinda bummed, a little angrier if I found out that's not the case."
The Trumps' Iraq visit was their first to a war zone during Trump's presidency, and surprised critics who were in the process of roasting him for failing to visit US forces over Christmas.
The President used his visit to defend his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, which was slammed by members of his own party and led Defence Secretary James Mattis to resign in protest.
"We're no longer the suckers, folks," he told the troops, having been greeted by chants of "USA! USA!".
"The reason I'm here today is to personally thank you and every service member throughout this region for the near-elimination of the ISIS territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
"Two years ago, when I became President, they were a very dominant group. They were very dominant. Today they're not so dominant anymore.
"Great job. I looked at a map and two years ago it was a lot of red all over, and now you have a couple of little spots, and that's happening very quickly."
The troops cheered in response, and many later posed for smiling photographs with the President.
In a particularly touching moment, one of them told Trump he had inspired him to return to the military.
"And I am here because of you," Trump replied.
This all comes amid a partial government shutdown in the United States, sparked by a stoush over funding for Trump's border wall with Mexico.
The stalemate is continuing with no resolution in sight, and today Trump further inflamed the situation by threatening to close the entire border between the two countries in a trademark tweet.
"We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with," he posted.