A report claimed that President Donald Trump mocked U.S. military members who died defending the country as "losers" and suckers," but the president forcefully denied the accusations.
The claims were made in a report by Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic and were based on four anonymous sources.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, "Why should I go to that cemetery? It's filled with losers." In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as "suckers" for getting killed.
The report recounted how the president famously belittled the military service of the late Sen. John McCain, and offered additional claims that Trump became enraged when flags were flown at half-staff to honor him after his death.
Critics of the president quickly pounced on the report to further accuse Trump of being unable to understand or honor a personal sacrifice for the country that didn't lead to personal wealth or advantage.
"Now I get why @realDonaldTrump won't stand up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for bounties on our troops. Does Trump act as a Russia agent? Yes," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Now I get why @realDonaldTrump won’t stand up to Putin for bounties on our troops. Does Trump act as a Russia agent… https://t.co/gndhL8htQY— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@Rep. Eric Swalwell) 1599186577.0
"But, Trump also thinks any US troops killed by Russia bounties are 'suckers' or 'losers.' He hasn't defended them. He never will," he added.
White House denies
A statement from the White House rejected the report completely.
"This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard," read the statement.
"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," the statement continued. "This has no basis in fact."
The president offered a much more personal and scathing denial of the story from his official social media account.
"I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things including ridiculous endless wars and the lack of success he had in dealing with the VA and our great Vets, but the lowering of our Nations American Flags, and the first class funeral he was given by our country, had to be approved by me, as President, & I did so without hesitation or complaint," he tweeted.
I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things including ridiculous endless wars and the l… https://t.co/rOAq9hrvZp— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1599187018.0
"I never called John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES," he added in a second tweet.
"This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!" he concluded.