The White House denied a blistering report published Thursday that claimed President Donald Trump called dead American soldiers “losers” and “suckers.”
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump allegedly told aides after he scrapped a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 to honor the dead soldiers, according to The Atlantic, which cited four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion. Trump, on the same trip, later referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives in the Battle of Belleau in France Wood as “suckers” for getting killed, the magazine reported.
The comments are in stark contrast with the president’s public persona as a champion of the U.S. military and a fighter for veterans. The Battle of Belleau, which lasted 20 days in June 1918 and soundly defeated German forces, was a defining moment in World War I for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The White House denied the report.
“This report is false. 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. This has no basis in fact,” White House communications director Alyssa Farah told NBC News in a statement.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere also denied the report in a tweet, calling it “anonymously sourced story.” The Atlantic said it spoke with multiple sources on the condition of anonymity. NBC News has not independently verified the report.
In 2018, the White House claimed Trump canceled the trip because a rainy forecast for the city made it too risky for him to safely fly there.
This is not the first time Trump’s boasting of the military has been at odds with his statements.
He lashed out at the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. “He’s not a war hero,” then-candidate Trump said in 2015. “I like people who weren’t captured.” As a candidate, he also attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star family whose son Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004 while serving as an Army captain.
The magazine also reported Thursday that when McCain died in August 2018, Trump told his aides, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” citing three sources with direct knowledge of the remark.
The magazine also said Trump, who was not invited to McCain’s funeral, became furious when he saw flags lowered to half-staff to honor McCain, citing witnesses to the event.
“What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—–g loser,” the president said, according to The Atlantic.