In November 2018, President Donald Trump canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France because “it’s filled with losers,” according to a conversation reported by The Atlantic.
Four anonymous White House senior staff members, who had directly heard Trump’s conversations that day, claim the President—on two separate occasions—openly questioned why the American soldiers buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery should be honored on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the day that marks the end of World War I.
The Atlantic first reported this story on September 4, claiming President Trump, in a conversation with senior white house staff, said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” He also called the buried soldiers in a different conversation “suckers” for losing their lives in the nearby Belleau Wood, a key battleground in World War I that ended in an Allied victory against the Central Powers.
After the news was published, Trump categorically denied the claims of The Atlantic, “If people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars. And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more… To think that I would make statements negative to our military when nobody has done what I’ve done, with the budgets and the military budget. We’re getting pay raises for the military. It is a disgraceful situation, by a magazine that is a terrible magazine, I don’t read it.”
First lady Melania Trump tweeted on the same day, saying the claims were “not true.” She added, “It has become a very dangerous time when anonymous sources are believed above all else, and no one knows their motivation.”
However, multiple news outlets have now confirmed the story, and many people noted how similar the President’s remarks about the fallen soldiers at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in 2018 were to his criticism of the military service of former Sen. John McCain, who openly criticized President Trump’s Republican nomination in 2016.
“We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” Trump had allegedly told senior staff when Sen. John McCain died in August of 2018, citing McCain’s imprisonment in the Vietnam War by Northern Vietnamese forces for over five years as his reasoning. “What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—ing loser,” Trump said to senior staff when he learned flags were flying at half-mast in honor of the former Arizona senator.
It is not certain how these disparaging comments towards American veterans may affect the election this November. In the fallout of The Atlantic article, NPR commented on how Trump’s comments are part of “the growing politicization of the military.” It is possible that as tensions heighten between the two political parties, the military may become part of the wider conversation surrounding what will surely be a monumental presidential election.