Politics|Trump Praises Military Dog Conan Amid Fight With Navy
WASHINGTON — The military dog who chased a terrorist to his death in October has recovered from his wounds and has since gone on “very important raids,” President Trump said on Monday as he stood near the dog during a last-minute appearance in the Rose Garden.
“I actually think Conan knew exactly what was going on,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the nighttime raid in late October that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader.
Mr. Trump praised the dog during the event even as he faced criticism over his extraordinary interference in the military justice system and overruling of a civilian military leader in the case against Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL. Chief Gallagher was convicted of posing for photographs with the body of an American-held teenage Islamic State captive. Mr. Trump ordered the Pentagon not to remove Chief Gallagher from the elite unit.
“The dog is incredible,” Mr. Trump said. “We spent some good time with it. So brilliant, so smart.”
Mr. Trump had not disclosed the name of the dog until Monday, though he shared photographs and praised him in the days immediately after the raid. The president also shared a doctored photograph of himself putting a medal around Conan’s neck.
Mr. Trump and Conan appeared in the Rose Garden with Vice President Mike Pence — who was grinning and petting the obedient dog — the first lady, Melania Trump, and a handler. The president was not seen petting Conan. (There was some confusion about the sex of the dog after the event, but the White House has confirmed that Conan is male.)
“Conan is a tough cookie,” Mr. Trump said. “And nobody is going to mess with Conan.” He added that he had asked how fast Conan could run. “I said, ‘What chance would a strong man have, a really strong, tough fighter? What chance would this person have against Conan without the guns? What chance?’”
Mr. Trump said his question was answered immediately: “He would have no chance. So that’s amazing. And yet you see how beautiful and how calm they are in a situation like this.”
Fully trained military dogs like Conan can cost around $283,000, which is about the same as a sophisticated weapon, a Bloomberg analysis found.
Mr. Trump said that dogs like Conan have a six-year career, “like an athlete,” and that Conan would not be retiring soon.
“They are very hard to get, this particular dog,” Mr. Trump said. “This is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything.”