Cotton defends Trump for saying soldiers injured in Iran attack had "headaches"

Cotton defends Trump for saying injured soldiers had "headaches"

Washington — Republican Senator Tom Cotton defended President Trump for saying soldiers who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq had "headaches," arguing the president was simply "describing" their injuries.

"He's not dismissing their injuries. He's describing their injuries," said the Arkansas senator, an Army veteran who served in Iraq. "If they are, in fact, if all these injuries are not serious, if they're all on the less serious side of the scale than the severe traumatic side of the scale, the president is just describing what happened there. He was not dismissing them."

The Pentagon said Friday that 34 U.S. service members have been treated for concussion symptoms and traumatic brain injuries suffered in the Iranian missile attack on an airbase in Iraq on January 8. The day after the attack, the president said in an address to the nation that no Americans were harmed. The Pentagon admitted on January 16 that 11 U.S. service members were being treated for concussion symptoms and screened for traumatic brain injuries.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump dismissed the head injuries, saying they weren't "very serious." Several veterans' groups have criticized Mr. Trump for his comments and called on him to apologize.

"I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things," Mr. Trump said. "I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen."

On "Face the Nation," Cotton pointed to progress in how the military treats traumatic brain injuries.

"The military does a lot better job than it did 15 or 20 years ago when it comes to brain injuries," Cotton said. "When I was in Iraq, if your truck got blown up, you went and got your eyes checked out and probably sent on your way. They do a much better job today than they did then.

Cotton also discussed the ongoing impeachment trial, saying he would not be voting to call witnesses.

"We don't need to prolong what's already taken five months," Cotton said. He said the president's attorneys "demolished" the arguments by House impeachment managers when they argued Mr. Trump's case for the first time on Saturday.

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    Grace Segers

    Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.