Fact Check: Obama Repeats Debunked Atlantic ‘Suckers’ Story

Barack Obama in Philadelphia (Michael M. Santiago / Getty)
Michael M. Santiago / Getty

CLAIM: President Donald Trump called “men and women of our military ‘suckers’ or ‘losers’.”

VERDICT: FALSE. That claim, published by The Atlantic on the basis of anonymous sources, is considered debunked.

Former President Barack Obama spoke on behalf of Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Biden himself called a “lid” on Monday, lasting throughout the week until Thursday’s debate.)

Obama repeated many false claims familiar from Biden’s own stump speech, including the “suckers and losers” hoax:

Just like when Russia puts bounties on the heads of our soldiers in Afghanistan [sic], the commander-in-chief cannot be missing in action. I can tell you this, Joe Biden would never call them and and women of our military “suckers or losers.” Who does that? He knows these heroes are somebody’s children, somebody’s spouse, dad or mom. He understands that. he will restore our standing in the world, because he knows America’s true strength comes from setting an example that the world wants to follow, a nation that stands with democracy, not dictators.

First of all, the Pentagon has said there is no “corroborating evidence” of the story about Russian bounties.

Second, Obama was exaggerating the already-debunked claims of the Atlantic. As Breitbart News pointed out in a fact check of a similar statement by Biden:

Biden was referring to a story in The Atlantic earlier this month that claimed — citing four anonymous sources — that Trump had specifically referred to the American dead in a World War I military cemetery in Europe as “suckers” and “losers.” (Biden went further, claiming Trump had been accused of referring to all veterans that way.)

No one else has corroborated the Atlantic‘s claim. Even Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, who claimed that she had “confirmed” other details in the story (from two similarly anonymous sources), could not confirm the Atlantic‘s “suckers” and “losers” claim.

Moreover, more a dozen current and former Trump administration officials have publicly and demonstratively denied the claims in the Atlantic article — including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has become a Trump critic.

As for standing with “dictators,” that was a frequent criticism of Obama himself, who normalized relations with the Cuban communist dictatorship, pursued an extremely weak nuclear deal with Iran, and literally bowed to the Saudi king.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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