Last week, the Atlantic published a shocking story citing anonymous sources claiming that President Trump had made derogatory comments about American war dead interred in France following the World Wars. If the story is true, it obviously would be a repulsive statement given the valent actions of those American soldiers who never made it home.
The following from the Atlantic is the key part of the story everyone is talking about:
“When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed the rain for the last-minute decision, saying that ‘the helicopter couldn’t fly’ and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”
However, after a weekend with headlines dominated by the report, this story is falling apart. Every person that was with the president in France that day disputes that he ever said this and have called the story a flat-out lie. The article’s author, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, relied on four still-anonymous sources who haven’t come public to defend their statements. That is flimsy evidence at best to use in a story as important as this one.
Even former National Security Advisor, John Bolton—who is no fan of Trump—has said that he didn’t witness the President saying such horrible things about America’s falling heroes. Bolton said, “I didn’t hear either of those comments or anything even resembling them. I was there at the point in time that morning when it was decided that he would not go Aisne-Marne cemetery. He decided not to do it because of John Kelly’s recommendation. It was entirely a weather-related decision, and I thought the proper thing to do. I never heard he made that kind of comment about another country’s forces either, no.”
If any person had a reason to out Trump for his supposed comments, it would be John Bolton. Ambassador Bolton wrote an entire book called The Room Where It Happened, trashing President Trump and highlighting the contentious relationship between the two men. It is likely that he would have devoted an entire chapter to the alleged derogatory comments had they occurred, but he didn’t. That should be very telling.
Five other people who were with the president that day took to Twitter to vehemently deny that Trump said anything like what the Atlantic article accuses him of saying. The following are their denials:
Jordan Karem, Personal Aide to President Trump, wrote on Twitter: “This is not even close to being factually accurate. Plain and simple, it just never happened.”
This is not even close to being factually accurate. Plain and simple, it just never happened 🤷♂️ https://t.co/8YZlWS83I3
— Jordan Karem (@JordanKarem1) September 3, 2020
Again, this is 100% false,” Karem added. “I was next to @POTUS the whole day! The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes.”
Again, this is 100% false. I was next to @POTUS the whole day! The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes. https://t.co/8YZlWS83I3
— Jordan Karem (@JordanKarem1) September 4, 2020
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Former White House Press Secretary, tweeted: “The Atlantic story on [President Trump] is total BS. 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… 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.”
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.
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) September 4, 2020
Hogan Gidley, Former Deputy White House Press Secretary, said: “These are disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies. I was there in Paris and the President never said those things. In fact, he would never even think such vile thoughts because I know from firsthand knowledge that President Trump absolutely loves, respects, and reveres the brave men and women of the United States military. He always has and always will. These weak, pathetic, cowardly background ‘sources’ do not have the courage or decency to put their names to these false accusations because they know how completely ludicrous they are. It’s sickening that they would hide in the shadows to knowingly try and hurt the morale of our great military simply for an attack on a political opponent.”
My response to the horrible lies from anonymous “sources” in the Atlantic: pic.twitter.com/uHtgJvrwCb
— J. Hogan Gidley (@JHoganGidley) September 4, 2020
Dan Scavino, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, responded to Huckabee Sanders’ tweet with: “I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all. Complete lies by ‘anonymous sources’ that were ‘dropped’ just as he begins to campaign (and surge). A disgraceful attempt to smear POTUS, 60 days before the Presidential Election! Disgusting!!”
I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all. Complete lies by “anonymous sources” that were “dropped” just as he begins to campaign (and surge). A disgraceful attempt to smear POTUS, 60 days before the Presidential Election! Disgusting!! https://t.co/mQfCNUlyZm
— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) September 4, 2020
Steven Miller, White House Senior Adviser, told The Washington Examiner in an interview that the story was a “despicable lie.”
“The president deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call,” Miller said. “The next day, he spoke at Suresnes American Cemetery in the pouring rain and refused an umbrella. No one has a bigger, more loving, or more loyal heart for American veterans and fallen heroes than our president.”
Given President Trump’s funding of the military, including reform of the VA system and his repeated praise of those who have served our nation, it strains credulity to believe this story is anything but more fake news from a viciously anti-Trump media.
Unless these four “anonymous sources” come on the record and are able to corroborate their claims, there is no reason to believe the story is true. Until that happens, it looks like the Atlantic’s case is dead in the water.