President Donald Trump on Thursday night personally denounced a story published by The Atlantic, which cited anonymous sources that claim Trump described America’s fallen heroes as “suckers” and “losers.”
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military and our fallen heroes … it is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that’s a terrible magazine,” Trump said. “I don’t read it, but I just heard about it.”
Trump spoke after he landed at Andrews Air Force Base after returning late from a campaign rally at an airport in Wisconsin.
“It’s a total lie; it’s fake news. It’s a disgrace, and frankly it’s a disgrace to your profession,” he said to reporters who did not expect him to speak after exiting Air Force One. Video footage of his remarks featured the president denouncing the story in the dark.
The Atlantic story cited anonymous sources who claimed that Trump did not want to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at the site of Battle of Belleau Wood during his visit to Paris in 2018 and that he was worried about his hair in the rain. The sources also claimed that Trump said the cemetery was “filled with losers” and that the Marines who died at Belleau Wood were “suckers” for being killed.
But Trump was adamant that the story was completely false, calling the report “unthinkable.”
“They made it up and probably it’s a couple of people that have been failures in the administration that I got rid of and I couldn’t get rid of them fast enough,” he said. “Or it was just made up, but it’s unthinkable.”
Trump repeated the series of events that took place in Paris: his presence at the ceremony at the cemetery was canceled because it was unsafe to fly Marine One to the site due to fog and rain.
A presidential motorcade, he asserted, was out of the question because it would involve French police trying to shut down the busiest parts of Paris to make way for a last-minute trip.
“The Secret Service told me, ‘you can’t do it,'” he said.
The president denounced the anonymous sources for The Atlantic article as worse than animals.
“What animal would say such a thing?” he asked.
“If people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars,” Trump said. “And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects that more.”
Several members of the White House team, who were present for the trip, also publicly denounced the story on Twitter.
“The Atlantic story on Donald Trump is total BS,” wrote former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion – this never happened.”
Sanders said she was “disgusted” by the attack published in The Atlantic, recalling the moments that President Trump met with veterans.
“These were some of the moments I witnessed the President show his heart and demonstrate how much he respects the selfless and courageous men and women of our military,” she said.
Jordan Karem, the president’s body man during the trip, also weighed in on Twitter.
“Again, this is 100% false. I was next to the president the whole day!” he wrote. “The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes.”
Senior adviser to the president, Stephen Miller, who was also present for the trip, described the story as a “despicable lie.”
“The president deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call,” he said in comments to the Washington Examiner.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino also said he was with the president after the trip was canceled due to bad weather.
“There is literally not one thing ‘reported’ from France that is accurate or true, 100% complete lies!” he wrote. “This is a politically motivated hit piece, on the President of the United States, 60 days before a presidential election. A total disgrace!!”
The Washington Examiner published an email from Secret Service detailing the decision to cancel the 2018 event.
White House official has sent an image of redacted email apparently showing "bad weather call" was indeed cause of Trump not attending Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in 2018.
— Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) September 4, 2020
The Atlantic story also claimed that Trump said that deceased Sen. John McCain was “a fucking loser” and did not want to lower flags to half-staff when he passed away.
But Trump said that he still respected McCain despite their disagreements and approved all of the honors for his funeral.
“I disagreed with John McCain, but I still respected him and I had to approve his funeral as president,” he said.
Trump said he approved the funeral and the plane transporting his body to Washington, DC, for recognition, “without hesitation and without complaint.”
“I felt he deserved it,” Trump said. “I disagreed with him on things and he was a tough guy, and I felt he deserved it.”