Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg shot down Fox News political correspondent Bret Baier's suggestion he should not have taken his husband—educator, author and activist Chasten Buttigieg—as part of an official delegation to the Netherlands for the Fifth Invictus Games.
Baier questioned Buttigieg about his travel schedule after a calendar obtained by the nonpartisan Americans for Public Trust (APT) and shared with Fox News Digital showed he'd traveled from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to Rotterdam, Netherlands via "MilAir Flight" in April 2022 before returning two days later on military aircraft.
Buttigieg said Baier put “quite a spin” on the trip to the games—an international multi-sport event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans—which often are visited by United States government officials and their respective spouses.
He also noted the costs of his husband's travel were not reimbursed to the federal government because he was part of an official delegation empowered by Democratic President Joe Biden to represent the U.S. during the event, which Buttigieg no doubt has a vested interest in given his previous experience as a combat veteran in Afghanistan.
You can hear what Buttigieg said in response in the video below.
Buttigieg spoke at length about his responsibilities as the leader of the American delegation:
"I led a presidential delegation to support American wounded warriors and service members at the Invictus Games, as has been tradition for many years. I led the American delegation. It was one of the great honors of my time in this job."
"And the diplomatic protocol on a presidential delegation is that the principal is often accompanied by their spouse. It was a great trip. It was incredible."
"It was also a few weeks into the Ukraine war so we had a chance at the U.S. embassy to engage with the Ukrainian competitors, also wounded service members. Some of them went from the games back to the battlefield to fight for their country."
"I also took the opportunity to sit with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands to look at port infrastructure, Dutch port infrastructure."
At this point, Buttigieg noted before him every administration official who led that same delegation—going back to both the Trump and Obama administrations—was accompanied by their wife:
“Here’s what I want you to understand. Before me, it was the Secretary of the Army [Mark Esper] under President Trump who took that trip with his wife. Before that, it was Mrs. Trump, as First Lady, who went to the Invictus Games. Before that, Mrs. Obama did the same thing."
And finally, he took Baier to task for implying his marriage to a man is any different:
"And I guess the question on my mind is, if no one is raising questions about why Secretary Esper and his wife led that delegation, as well they should have, then why is it any different when it’s me and my husband?”
Baier could only respond he "understood" before he proceeded with the remainder of the interview.
Buttigieg's measured and articulate response earned him plaudits online.
The Invictus Games were founded by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex—himself a combat veteran—after he was inspired by a visit to the Warrior Games, a multi-sport event for wounded, injured or ill service personnel and veterans organized by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Buttigieg's visit has been defended by the White House National Security Council. A spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News Digital it is "standard practice for military aircraft to be provided for White House organized Cabinet-level presidential delegations."
Separately, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation (DOT) said Buttigieg "was proud to be asked to be part of the Presidential Delegation that the State Department organized for the Invictus Games."