President Trump on Thursday angrily denied a recent The Atlantic article that alleges he disparage U.S. military members and asking that amputee veterans be excluded from military parades, calling it “fake news” and a “disgrace” and the story a “disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election.”
“What animal would say such a thing?” Trump told reporters in a seven-minute rebuttal disputing the whole article claims. “And especially since I’ve done more, I think more than almost anybody, to help our military to get the budgets, to get the pay raises for our military. So I just think it’s a horrible thing that they are allowed to write that. We can refute it. We have other people that will refute it.”
“It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that is a terrible magazine,” Trump continued. “I don’t read it. I just heard about it, but they made it up. Probably it’s a couple of people that have been failures in the administration.”
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military and fallen heroes when nobody has done what I’ve done,” for the U.S. armed forces, Trump added. “It’s a total lie … It’s a disgrace.”
Trump lambasted the article’s claims, saying The Atlantic “they made it up.”
“If they really exist, if people really exist that would have said that, they’re low lifes and they’re liars. And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more,” Trump said. “So, I just think it’s a horrible horrible thing. It made a great evening into frankly a very sad evening when I see a statement like that. No animal, nobody, what animal would say such a thing?”
“According to The Atlantic article by its editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg that was published Thursday evening, the same time Trump was holding a campaign rally in Pennsylvania citing four anonymous sources claiming the president referred to marines buried in an American cemetery near Paris as “losers” and canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, France, in 2018 because he worried his hair would be disheveled by the rain.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump reportedly asked a senior staff ahead of the 2018 planned visit, according to The Atlantic that cited four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion, adding that Trump referred to 1,800 U.S. Marines who were killed at Belleau Wood during World War I as “suckers” for getting killed.
However, both a NAVY FOIA request regarding the 2018 trip and former National Security advisor John Bolton book where he details the events surrounding the cancellation of the planned event both disputed The Atlantic claim, saying the bad visibility weather made it impossible to chopper the president to Belleau Wood monuments.
The president said he did not go to the cemetery because the weather prevented a helicopter flight. The alternative, a long drive, would have meant going through very busy areas of Paris and the Secret Service objected, he said.
Numerous Trump officials, both current and former allies quickly came to the president’s defense, tweeting their own recollections of events that disputed the majority of the four anonymous sources the Atlantic reported in its story.
“The Atlantic story on @realDonaldTrump is total BS,” Sarah Sanders said in a tweet. The former White House press secretary said she was “one of the people part of the discussion” on Trump’s canceled visit to Aisne-Marne and that Trump’s comments on the war dead “never happened.”
Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley also pushed back on the reporting, calling the allegations “disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies.”
“I was there in Paris and the President never said those things,” Gidley said in a tweeted statement. “In fact, he would never even think such vile thoughts because I know from firsthand knowledge that President Trump absolutely loves, respects and reveres the brave men and women of the United States military.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that it was “garbage.”
“I see President @realDonaldTrump consistently express his heartfelt gratitude and absolute admiration for our brave men and women in uniform,” McEnany tweeted. “Just yesterday, he was truly humbled to be in the presence of our courageous World War II veterans.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden seized on The Atlantic article, condemning Trump for the remarks on military service members.
“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. I have long said that, as a nation, we have many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation — to prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home,” Biden said in a statement.
“Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members. Those are the values that have formed the core of America’s defense for centuries. And if I have the honor of serving as the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.” Biden added.
Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, said: “We stand by our reporting.”