President Donald Trump is once again on the receiving end for allegedly mocking American soldiers killed in the battleground as “losers” and “suckers”. While Trump rejected the reports as “fake news”, the remarks were published in Atlantic magazine and some details were validated by Associated Press and Fox News. Veterans’ groups were also among the first to condemn the Republican. Over the reports, Progressive group VoteVets posted a video of families whose children were killed in action. “You don’t know what it is to sacrifice,” says one.
Paul Rieckhoff who represents a group called Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America, in his tweet said: “Who is really surprised by this?”
Analysts say the comments could cause a significant dent to the Republicans re-election campaign just before the polls.
According to the reports of Atlantic magazine, the US president scrapped a visit to a US cemetery outside Paris in 2018, saying it was “filled with losers”. Four sources said, Trump was not willing to travel to the area fearing the rain would dishevel his thin hair and he did not believe in honoring the soldiers that died in the service of their land. During the same trip, he allegedly mocked 1,800 US troops who died at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers”. The battle saved the Paris from the further advance of Nazi Germany forces during World War I and is highly venerated by United States Marine Corps.
In 2018, the WH administration reported that the visit was cancelled because bad weather had grounded Trump’s chopper. The narrated account was backed up in a recent book published by Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton. The Atlantic’s reporting was based on anonymous sources but the AP said it had corroborated many of the remarks independently. A Fox News reporter also said she verified some of the remarks.
Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger and biggest hurdle in the Trump’s way to another 4-year term, referred Trump as “unfit” to lead in his response.
“If the article is true – and it appears to be, based on other things he has said – it is absolutely damning. It is disgrace.”
Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic Senator and a veteran who lost both her legs on duty in Iraq War, said Trump “liked to use the US military for his own ego”. Khizr Khan, the father of a US solider killed in Iraq also teamed up with the Senator over the call.
Khizr said: “When Donald Trump calls anyone who places their lives in service of others a loser, we understand Trump’s soul.”
White House’s Response
President Trump hitting back at the news reports describe the news as fake.
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military and our fallen heroes when nobody’s done what I’ve done with the budgets, with the military budgets, with getting pay rises for our military,” he said. “It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that is a terrible magazine.”
The Republican while speaking to reporters on Friday suggested the source of the story was his former WH chief of staff, John Kelly. The Trump decried the former US Marine general as the one who “was unable to handle the pressure of this job”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking to Fox News on Friday said he was accompanying the President during his trip to Paris and never heard him use such language while talking of veterans. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in his rebuttal given to Politico said, the President had “the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families, however, he did not dismissed the story.