The president made the comments as he declined to visit a cemetery outside Paris where US Marines are buried, according to the Atlantic report
A new report details multiple instances of Donald Trump allegedly making disparaging remarks about members of the US military who have been captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers”.
The allegations were first reported Thursday in the Atlantic. A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events confirmed some of the remarks to the Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.
The defense official said Trump made the comments as he declined to visit the cemetery outside Paris during a meeting following his presidential daily briefing on the morning of 10 November 2018.
Staffers from the National Security Council and the Secret Service told Trump that rainy weather made helicopter travel to the cemetery risky, but they could drive there. Trump responded by saying he didn’t want to visit the cemetery because it was “filled with losers”, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The White House blamed the canceled visit on poor weather at the time.
In another conversation on the trip, the Atlantic said, Trump referred to the 1,800 Marines who died in the first world war battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
“This report is patently false,” said White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah. “President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses. These nameless anecdotes have no basis in fact and are offensive fiction.”
Trump himself told reporters on Thursday the story was false. “To think that I would make statements negative to our military and fallen heroes when nobody has done what I’ve done,” for the US armed forces, Trump said. “It’s a total lie … It’s a disgrace.”
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, issued a statement on the allegations: “If the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true, then they are yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the President of the United States.”
The Defense official also confirmed to the AP reporting in The Atlantic that Trump on Memorial Day 2017 had gone with his chief of staff, John Kelly, to visit the Arlington Cemetery gravesite of Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, and said to Kelly: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
The Atlantic, citing sources with firsthand knowledge, also reported that Trump said he didn’t want to support the August 2018 funeral of Republican senator John McCain, a decorated Navy veteran who spent years as a Vietnam prisoner of war, because he was a “loser”. It also reported that Trump was angered that flags were flown at half-staff for McCain, saying: “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser.”
In 2015, shortly after launching his presidential candidacy, Trump publicly blasted McCain, saying “He’s not a war hero.” He added, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump only amplified his criticism of McCain as the Arizona lawmaker grew critical of his acerbic style of politics, culminating in a late-night “no” vote scuttling Trump’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump has continued to attack McCain for that vote, even posthumously.
The magazine said Trump also referred to former President George HW Bush as a “loser” because he was shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.
Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, tweeted Thursday: “The Atlantic story is completely false. Absolutely lacks merit. I’ve been by the President’s side. He has always shown the highest respect to our active duty troops and veterans with utmost respect paid to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those wounded in battle.”
Democracy is in peril …
… ahead of this year’s US election. Donald Trump is busy running the largest misinformation campaign in history as he questions the legitimacy of voting by mail, a method that will be crucial to Americans casting their vote in a pandemic. Meanwhile, the president has also appointed a new head of the US Postal Service who has stripped it of resources, undermining its ability to fulfill a crucial role in processing votes.
This is one of a number of attempts to suppress the votes of Americans – something that has been a stain on US democracy for decades. The Voting Rights Act was passed 55 years ago to undo a web of restrictions designed to block Black Americans from the ballot box. Now, seven years after that law was gutted by the supreme court, the president is actively threatening a free and fair election.
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