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Anonymously sourced article sparks debate Trump called war dead ‘losers’ while Trump and named officials say story completely false

President Donald J. Trump salutes as participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Thursday, June 25, 2020, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
September 04, 2020

The Atlantic reported on Thursday that President Donald Trump canceled a November 2018 visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, France and said “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

President Trump and several named officials have aggressively called out the story for being false.

The Atlantic report cited four unnamed sources who said Trump rejected the idea of visiting the cemetery because he allegedly worried the weather that day would dishevel his hair and because he didn’t care about honoring veterans.

One source claimed Trump called the 1,800 Marines who died in the Battle of Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed. Another source claims Trump even asked “Who were the good guys in this war?” referring to World War I.

The Battle of Belleau Wood was a famous battle for the U.S. Marine Corps and according to the branch’s traditions, it is the battle where the Marines earned the respect of their German enemies, who bestowed them with the nickname “Teufelshunde” or “Devil Dogs.”

Another unnamed source said that during a White House planning meeting for a veterans event, Trump asked to exclude amputee veterans because “Nobody wants to see that.”

Atlantic editor-in-chief and author Jeffrey Goldberg did not name any sources for the 2018 allegations. However, he cited Trump’s feud with the late Navy pilot, Prisoner of War and U.S. Senator John McCain, noting Trump said McCain is “not a war hero” and said, “I prefer people who weren’t captured.”

On Friday, President Trump pushed back on the allegations reported by The Atlantic, tweeting, “The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance. Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!”

According to official accounts, Trump canceled his appearance at the memorial event due to weather conditions that prevented Trump from flying to the cemetery on Marine One. On Friday, multiple current and former officials who were with Trump during the alleged incident disputed the article by the Atlantic.

Jordan Karem, Trump’s then-personal assistant tweeted, “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.”

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino also refuted the story, retweeting former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who also refuted the story.

“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!!,” Scavino tweeted.

Sanders tweeted, “The Atlantic story on @realDonaldTrump 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.”

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Goldberg said his unnamed sources declined to go on the record because “They don’t want to be inundated with angry tweets and all the rest,” but said he made a judgment call to run with the story because “I know this information well enough from high enough sources and multiple sources.”

Washington Examiner editor Daniel Chaitin tweeted the clip of Goldberg’s interview with CNN. “Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg explains why he used unnamed sources in report about Trump insulting dead soldiers: “They don’t want to be inundated with angry tweets and all the rest…”