At the Tulsa rally of June 20th, Donald Trump defended his apparent difficulty tilting a glass of water with his right hand by saying his arm was tired from saluting 600 times.

“They said you couldn’t lift your hand up to your mouth with water,” Trump said, conveying what he says his wife had told him. “I said, I just saluted 600 times, like this!” - Washington Post

I've seen numerous reports about the water glass event (as well as his gingerly walk down the ramp) but could find nothing about how many times he had to salute during the event.

I did find several sources that listed the number of graduating cadets at approximately 1100.

Did Trump need to salute each cadet? If not, did he salute anywhere close to 600 times before the water glass event?

Edited to add: There are a lot of comments questioning why I asked this question. The reason I'm asking is not to denigrate Trump. The reason is that it appears to me, as a physician, to indicate a medical problem (remember that saying about a hammer and a nail). The inability to descend an incline leading with the right leg is the same. Both indicate a lack of trust in the right wrist/leg respectively, whatever the reason for this lack of trust. Saluting involves mostly the proximal muscles of the arm; it's a "gross motor skill". Rotating the glass and drinking without spilling requires a lot more neurologically. And no, it's not normal to do this to avoid a spill on clothing. Most people would extend the neck to do this, or use the left hand to move the clothes closer to the body. But, as I said, hammer/nail. I believe it's ok to worry about the health and well-being of a person in power over the country I live in. And it's equally ok to want to understand if his statement was a joke, an explanation, or a lie. I'm not his doctor; I'm not diagnosing. But medically, it was a bit concerning. That's all.

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    As highlighted by @Barmar, there is a risk that that the question (as edited) is tackling a strawman - i.e. that Trump did not mean "My arm was weak drinking the water because I had just saluted 600 times" but instead meant "How can you think my arm is weak? I went on to salute 600 times."
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 10:12
  • @Oddthinking - Is there a site better suited to ask this? I'm not sure it's a "straw man". (I'm not sure what exactly it is. Maybe a non-sequitur?) If I could misinterpret his words, I would imagine many others did as well. To me, this is worth exploring. (It certainly helped me.) Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


Trump only did a significant number of motions (salutes, etc.) with his arms after taking a drink of water, not before. As per the full video, mentioned by Nate Eldredge from PBS NewsHour, Trump salutes 3 times, claps 4 times, and shakes hands 1 time prior to his speech, during which the contentious drink of water is taken.

I will take at face value the number of salutes that CNN mentions, since he does appear to salute to each graduate as they approach, so it is not wrong for him to say that he saluted 600 times that day.

It is patently false to claim that the reason he used a second hand to drink the glass of water was due to saluting 600 times, however.

If anyone feels the need to count for themselves, Trump enters the field here, does his first salute here, and begins the speech here, while the salutes come after the speech.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 9:40

From the source you gave:

“They said you couldn’t lift your hand up to your mouth with water,” Trump said, conveying what he says his wife had told him. “I said, I just saluted 600 times, like this!”

He imitated saluting to the graduating cadets, to cheers from the audience. Well, sure, then. Not fair to criticize the guy if his hands were that tired.

Then he added: “This was before I saluted.”

As it was. Oh, okay then.

So he stated, and your source acknowledges, that the water incident occurred before he saluted.

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    This is the correct answer, better than the source that made the original claim. Unfortunately it won't get the proper attention. Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 3:12
  • @ChrisLoonam - How can it be better than the source that made the original claim? They are one and the same. Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 15:57
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    @anongoodnurse You should accept this answer instead. Basically it was a misunderstanding on your side. Besides that, I don't understand why you are accusing Washington Post when you obviously didn't read the article completely.
    – Chris
    Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 20:07
  • @Chris - You presume much. Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 21:41

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