In January 2020, as heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran led to rumors that a war between the two countries was imminent, the focus of many Americans turned to the issue of a military draft. Hoaxes played on the fears of younger people that they might be conscripted for such a conflict, while criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump often mentioned that Trump himself had never served in the military because he obtained multiple deferments during the Vietnam War era.
Also in play at that time was a meme popular on social media which quoted Trump as acknowledging that he had once obtained a draft deferment for having a bone spur on his heel, and rhetorically questioning whether Americans would “really want a president who was dumb enough to let himself get drafted”:
Sure, I got deferments. Would you really want a president who was dumb enough to let himself get drafted? I mean, it wasn’t hard to get out of it, believe me.
My doctor said I had a bump on my heel, or something. I don’t know. I don’t even think he was a doctor, frankly. The government is just very, very stupid, OK? Which is why only I can fix it.
Although this quote was cited as coming from an August 28, 2015, Trump interview on the NBC Sunday morning news program “Meet the Press,” no such interview took place (nor did “Meet the Press” air on that date).
Trump appeared as a guest on “Meet the Press” a few weeks prior to that date, on August 16, 2015 (a few months after declaring his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination), but a transcript of that interview reveals no discussion of a draft, deferments, or the Vietnam War.
Trump was also heard (via video clips) on the “Meet the Press” broadcast of August 28, 2016 (not 2015), but again a transcript of that program does not document any mention by Trump of a draft, deferments, or the Vietnam War.
In fact, this quote about deferments is a fabricated one which original appeared in a satirical article published on Yahoo! News on August 4, 2016 (three months before Trump was elected president). That article, by national political columnist Matt Bai, bore the headline “Is there anything Trump could say to make his party cut and run?” and offered a number of outrageous and fictitious quotes attributed to a variety of Republican politicians.