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Sept. 4, 2020, 11:35 a.m. EDT

Trump disparaged U.S. war dead as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers,’ according to the Atlantic

Defense Department official, Marine officer confirm to the Associated Press some of the remarks attributed to the president in Atlantic magazine story

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By Associated Press


AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump walks past tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery on December 2018.

DELRAY BEACH, FLa. — A new report details multiple instances of President Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. 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.”

Trump said Thursday that the story was “totally false.”

The allegations were first reported in the Atlantic . A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to the Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.

The defense officials said Trump made the comments as he begged off visiting the cemetery outside Paris during a meeting following his presidential daily briefing on the morning of Nov. 10, 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 the topic publicly.

The White House blamed the canceled visit on poor weather at the time.

In another conversation on the trip, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported, Trump referred to the 1,800 Marines who died in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Trump denied the Atlantic report Thursday night, calling it “a disgraceful situation” by a “terrible magazine.”

Goldberg is the highly regarded magazine’s editor-in-chief, and both he and the 163-year-old publication have won numerous awards.

Speaking to reporters after he returned to Washington from a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said: “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more. No animal — nobody — what animal would say such a thing?”

Trump also reiterated the White House explanation of why he didn’t visit the cemetery. “The helicopter could not fly,” he said, because of rain and fog. “The Secret Service told me you can’t do it. ... They would never have been able to get the police and everybody else in line to have a president go through a very crowded, very congested area.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “It’s sad the depths that people will go to during a lead-up to a presidential campaign to try to smear somebody.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday, “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.”

“Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members,” he said in a statement Thursday night, adding that if he is elected president, “I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.”

Biden’s son Beau, who died at 46 in 2015, served in Iraq in 2008-09.

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