A new report details multiple instances of President Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the US military who have been captured or killed.
The remarks allegedly include referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers”.
The allegations were first reported in The Atlantic. A senior Defence Department official with firsthand knowledge of events confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.
The defence official said Mr Trump made the comments as he begged off visiting the cemetery outside Paris during a meeting following his presidential daily briefing on the morning of November 10, 2018.
Staffers from the National Security Council and the Secret Service told Mr Trump that rainy weather made helicopter travel to the cemetery risky, but they could drive there.
Mr Trump responded by saying he didn’t want to visit the cemetery because it was “filled with losers,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss it publicly.
The White House blamed the cancelled visit on poor weather at the time.
In another conversation on the trip, The Atlantic said, Mr Trump referred to the 1800 Marines who died in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
“This report is patently false,” White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah said.
“President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn … These nameless anecdotes have no basis in fact and are offensive fiction.”
On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said: “If the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true, then they are yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the president of the United States.”
The defence official also confirmed to The AP reporting in The Atlantic that on Memorial Day 2017, Mr Trump had gone with his chief of staff, John Kelly, to visit the Arlington Cemetery gravesite of Mr Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. Mr Trump said to Mr Kelly: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
The Atlantic, citing sources with firsthand knowledge, also reported that Mr Trump said he didn’t want to support the August 2018 funeral of Republican senator John McCain, a decorated Navy veteran who spent years as a Vietnam prisoner of war, because he was a “loser”.
It also reported that Mr Trump was angered that flags were flown at half-staff for Mr McCain, saying: “What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—ing loser.”
In 2015, shortly after launching his presidential candidacy, Mr Trump publicly blasted Mr McCain, saying, “He’s not a war hero. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Mr Trump only amplified his criticism of Mr McCain as the Arizona politician became more critical of his acerbic style of politics, culminating in a late-night “no” vote scuttling Mr Trump’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That vote shattered what few partisan loyalties bound the two men, and Mr Trump has continued to attack Mr McCain for that vote, even posthumously.
The magazine said Mr Trump also referred to former US president George H.W. Bush as a “loser” because he was shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.