President Donald Trump on Thursday refuted a story that claimed, citing anonymous sources, that he had spoken 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.
The president denied the report calling it a “disgrace” and “fake news.”
The report by magazine The Atlantic, published Thursday, 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.
“If they really exist, if people really exist that would have said that, they’re low lifes 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. “There is nobody that respects them more.”
He continued, “So, I just think it’s a horrible horrible thing. It made a great evening into frankly a very sad evening when I see a statement like that. No animal, nobody, what animal would say such a thing?”
The president 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 adds, 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.”
Kellogg, a retired Lieutenant General who now serves as the National Security Advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, said on Twitter late Thursday, “The Atlantic story is completely false.”
“Absolutely lacks merit,” he continued. “I’ve been by the President’s side. He has always shown the highest respect to our active duty troops and veterans with utmost respect paid to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those wounded in battle.”
On John McCain
The president also denied allegations in the publication’s report that he wouldn’t support the funeral of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Trump strongly denied the allegations, calling it on Twitter “more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!”
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president continued, “Quite the contrary, I felt it was well deserved. I even sent Air Force One to bring his body, in casket, from Arizona to Washington. It was my honor to do so. Also, 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.”
The Epoch Times has contacted The Atlantic for comment.
I see President @realDonaldTrump consistently express his heartfelt gratitude and absolute admiration for our brave men and women in uniform.
Just yesterday, he was truly humbled to be in the presence of our courageous World War II veterans.
This Atlantic story is garbage!
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) September 4, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, denounced the story as “garbage.”
“I see President @realDonaldTrump consistently express his heartfelt gratitude and absolute admiration for our brave men and women in uniform,” McEnany said in a Twitter post. “Just yesterday, he was truly humbled to be in the presence of our courageous World War II veterans.”
Mimi Nguyen Ly and Reuters contributed to this report.