Army veteran Bobby Henline on Monday lashed out at individuals using his image to spread “propaganda,” after a magazine report published last week claimed, citing anonymous sources, that President Donald Trump had spoken disparagingly about fallen U.S. military personnel.
Henline, an Iraq war veteran, published a video clip on several social media platforms demanding that people stop using his photograph to promote political “propaganda.”
It followed a report by magazine The Atlantic, published Thursday, that claimed the president in 2018 made disparaging remarks about Marines buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, France. The report also claimed he turned down a trip to visit the cemetery because he feared his hair would become disheveled in rain.
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Retired Army Staff Sgt. Henline, of San Antonio, Texas, in his video points to a meme which uses his image.
The veteran, who suffered 38 percent burns to his body when his vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007, said he had nothing to do with the post. Henline lost four of his comrades in the attack. He now works as a motivational speaker and a stand-up comedian.
“I don’t know what Trump said, but I am sure he didn’t call me a loser. I didn’t hear him call me a loser, so this has got to stop. Stop using my image,” Henline said. “That’s my face. I’m here to tell you, it’s not true.”
“Look at that. People, stop using me for your propaganda, for your agenda,” he added. “I’m not here for that.”
He called on the individuals who have used his image to take them down, branding them “lowlifes.” It is not clear who created the meme referred to by Henline in the clip, however it appears to have been shared on the MSNBC Rachel Maddow fan group.
“Fox News, call me, somebody, let’s get this out there on a bigger platform, so people will know not to use me, not put a face to whatever this is they think he said,” Henline said. “It’s ridiculous. Stop the [expletive]. Let’s move on, I’m not part of all this.”
“Damn it people! Stop using my image. President Trump let’s do lunch. #trump2020,” he wrote on Instagram.
The president last week refuted the report that relied entirely on anonymous sources, calling it a “disgrace” and “fake news.”
“If they really exist, if people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars. And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes,” Trump told reporters in Maryland Thursday. “There is nobody that respects them more.”
Four other on-the-record sources also rebutted the report. Sarah Sanders, the former White House press secretary, said in a statement that it “is total BS,” or nonsense.
“I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion—this never happened. I have sat in the room when our president called family members after their sons were killed in action and it was heart-wrenching,” she wrote.
“These were some of the moments I witnessed the president show his heart and demonstrate how much he respects the selfless and courageous men and women of our military. I am disgusted by this false attack.”
Hogan Gidley, a former White House aide who now serves as the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, said the story was full of “disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies.”
“I was there in Paris and the president never said those things,” Gidley wrote in a statement, describing the anonymous sources as people who “do not have the courage or decency to put their names to these false accusations because they know how completely ludicrous they are.”
White House aide Dan Scavino, who was also on the trip, said the story contained “complete lies.”
“A disgraceful attempt to smear POTUS, 60 days before the presidential election! Disgusting!!” he wrote in a tweet.
White House communications director Alyssa Farah said in a statement that the piece is “offensive and patently false.”
The Atlantic didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.