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Explained: The controversy over Trump not visiting one US cemetery in the rain, for another

President Donald J. Trump at the American Commemoration Ceremony at Suresnes American Cemetery Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 (Shealah Craighead/White House)
November 12, 2018

President Trump’s scheduled visit to a cemetery with American casualties from World War I was canceled over the weekend in France, though he attended a similar event at a different cemetery the following day.

On Saturday, the President was supposed to hold a moment of silence and place a wreath to commemorate the lost personnel, however, the White House attributed the cancellation to bad weather, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

President Trump reportedly had no say in the decision, as the Marine Corps and White House Military Office made the determination collaboratively with the Secret Service that Paris’ overcast and rainy conditions posed too much risk for Marine One to fly to Aisne-Marne, which is about 60 miles northeast of Paris.

The cancellation caused backlash, with many saying President Trump should’ve attended through other means of travel. But it would have reportedly caused an unexpected disruption to the city if Trump had taken a car.

However, on a rainy Sunday, President Trump attended an observation event at the Suresnes American Cemetery just outside Paris to honor Americans killed in World War I.

Photos show the President sporting an umbrella with visible rain droplets on his coat, leading many to wonder why he could attend one event in the rain, but not the other.

The observance on Saturday took place at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial approximately 60 miles northeast of Paris. It commemorated those lost during the Battle of Belleau Wood, which is considered a notable conflict in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Suresnes, however, is located within the Paris metro area – just six miles from the U.S. embassy – and did not require the use of Marine One or significant resources to make the trip.

The White House said Trump would’ve traveled by car to Aisne-Marne, but decided against posing a disruption to roadways as a result of the sudden travel plans, Fox News reported.

“President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, adding that the trip would’ve taken two-and-a-half hours by car each way.

“We can’t shut the city down for four hours for him to go there and back, plus the asset issue,” Sanders told NBC News, referring to the significant cost of security for the travel.

The observance at Aisne-Marne was not canceled, however.

White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly attended in President Trump’s place, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, and a few other staffers from the White House.

“We had the two best Marines that he knows there to represent our country with General Kelly and General Dunford,” Sanders noted.

President Trump spent Saturday indoors meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, which was accommodating the President during his weekend stay.

On Sunday, President Trump and some 70 other world leaders attended Armistice Day celebrations, an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end.