Bolton Refutes Allegations That Trump Disparaged Military Personnel

September 9, 2020 Updated: September 9, 2020

Former national security adviser John Bolton has joined a growing list of top U.S. officials to refute a report that claimed, citing anonymous sources, that President Donald Trump spoke disparagingly about fallen U.S. military personnel and canceled a visit to an American cemetery during a trip to France because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead.

Bolton on Monday dismissed last week’s report by magazine The Atlantic as “simply false” during an appearance on Fox News’s “The Story.”

The Atlantic’s report, which relies entirely on unnamed sources, claimed that the president in 2018 made disparaging remarks about Marines buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, France. The report also claims he turned down a trip to visit the cemetery because he feared his hair would become disheveled in rain.

“According to what the article said, the president made disparaging remarks about soldiers and people buried in the cemetery in connection with the decision for him not to go to the ceremony that was planned that afternoon, and that was simply false,” Bolton said. “I don’t know who told the author that, but that was false.

Bolton, who has previously called the president unfit for office, said he was present for the discussion about visiting the cemetery] and reiterated Trump’s remarks about the poor weather conditions.

“The main issue was whether or not weather conditions permitted the president to go out to the cemetery,” the former national security adviser told host Martha MacCallum, describing the canceled trip as a “very straight weather call.”

“I didn’t hear that,” he added, referring to allegations that the president disparaged the American war dead. “I’m not saying he didn’t say them later in the day or another time, but I was there for that discussion.”

Bolton noted that while he isn’t able to state that the president has never disparaged veterans in the past, he was responding to the what he took to be the main allegations of The Atlantic report.

“I was simply responding to what I thought [was] the main point of The Atlantic article: that at the critical point Saturday morning, when the decision was made not to go to Aisne-Marne, that he made the disparaging remarks, and he did not,” he said.

Separately on Monday, the U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco Jamie McCourt, who was present when the Aisne-Marne trip was canceled, told Breitbart News that the allegations are untrue. A number of other on-the-record sources have also leapt to the president’s defense and rebutted the story.

“Needless to say, I never spoke to The Atlantic, and I can’t imagine who would,” McCourt told Breitbart News. “In my presence, POTUS has NEVER denigrated any member of the U.S. military or anyone in service to our country. And he certainly did not that day, either.”

“Let me add, he was devastated to not be able to go to the cemetery at Belleau Wood. In fact, the next day, he attended and spoke at the ceremony in Suresnes in the pouring rain,” McCourt added.

The president denied the report last week calling it a “disgrace” and “fake news.” He told reporters that he planned to visit the cemetery in France by helicopter, but was advised by the U.S. Secret Service not to because of heavy rainfall at the time. The alternative, a long drive, would have meant going through very busy areas of Paris and the Secret Service objected, even though he insisted on the drive also, he said.

“The Secret Service told me ‘you can’t do it.’ I said ‘I have to do it.’ They said ‘you can’t do it,’” he recounted.

Trump added, expressing incredulity at the situation, “Now all of a sudden somebody makes up this horrible story that I didn’t want to go, and then they make up an even worse story, an even worse story, calling certain names to our fallen heroes. It’s a disgrace that a magazine is able to write it.”

“And 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 raises for our military,” he noted. “It’s a disgraceful situation by a magazine that’s a terrible magazine.”

Trump called on reporters to speak to General Keith Kellogg “because he knows exactly the story.”