President Trump denies report he disparaged fallen soldiers
Trump lashes out at The Atlantic over report; John Roberts reports.
President Trump canceled a planned 2018 trip to a cemetery for American war dead in France because of the weather and not because of disdain for the slain soldiers who are buried there or concern about how the weather would affect his hair, sources told Fox News, despite a report from The Atlantic making that claim.
Two sources who were on the trip in question with Trump refuted the main thesis of The Atlantic's reporting — that Trump canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, which is at the site of Belleau Wood, an important World War I battle, because he believed the dead soldiers to be "losers" and "suckers."
The White House had said at the time the decision was made because of poor weather for flying Marine One and the fact that the cemetery was too far a distance for a motorcade to drive.
One of the sources who refuted the Atlantic's reporting is not a fan of Trump. Both sources said that Trump was upset about not being able to go to Aisne-Marne and said they had never heard Trump refer to war dead at Aisne-Marne or in the battle of Bellau Wood as "losers" or "suckers."
Both sources also noted that Trump was not worried about how the weather would affect his hair, as The Atlantic reported. Trump the next day stood in the rain for an hour at a different event.
Fox's sources only refuted the claim about Aisne-Marne, not other times Trump is alleged to have insulted soldiers. Trump has previously gone after the late Sen. John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"Not a soul brave enough to put their name on any of these accusations," White House spokesman Judd Deere said Thursday of the report. "That's because they are false. Just another anonymously sourced story meant to tear down a commander in chief who loves our military and has delivered on the promises he's made. What a disgrace!"
Former national security adviser John Bolton, who has openly opposed Trump, saying he will vote for neither the president nor Joe Biden in November, wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the White House. In a passage in that memoir, Bolton actually defends Trump over the decision not to go to the Aisne-Marne.
Pompeo: I never heard the president speak ill of service members
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responds to report President Trump called fallen soldiers ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’
"Marine One's crew was saying that bad visibility could make it imprudent to chopper to the cemetery," Bolton wrote. "The ceiling was not too low for Marines to fly in combat, but flying POTUS was obviously something very different. If a motorcade were necessary, it could take between ninety and a hundred and twenty minutes each way, along roads that were not exactly freeways, posing an unacceptable risk that we could not get the President out of France quickly enough in case of an emergency. It was a straightforward decision to cancel the visit…"
Bolton later added: "The press turned canceling the cemetery visit into a story that Trump was afraid of the rain and took glee in pointing out that other world leaders traveled around during the day. Of course, none of them were the President of the United States, but the press didn't understand that rules for US Presidents are different from rules for 190 other leaders who don't command the world's greatest military forces."
Sources told Fox News the decision not to go to the cemetery was made by chief of staff John Kelly and his aide Zach Fuentes. Bolton further wrote that Kelly was the one who recommended the move, saying it was quite difficult for him to do because he is a Marine himself.
Trump personally addressed The Atlantic's story on Twitter.
"The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance," he wrote Friday. "Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!"
Vice President Pence also called the report "absurd" on FOX Business Friday.
"Any suggestion that this president doesn't love and respect the men and women of our armed forces and their families is absurd on its face to me because I have walked the grounds of Arlington National Cemetary side-by-side with President Donald Trump," Pence said.
Fox News' Sam Dorman contributed to this report.
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