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VA Secretary joins dozens in blasting article that claimed Trump called dead soldiers 'losers'

Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie has joined a long list of officials in blasting a recent report in the Atlantic that claimed Trump has repeatedly made disparaging remarks about the US war dead, calling them ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’.

The rebuttals come as the article’s author, and the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, has defended his decision to keep his sources anonymous and says he expects ‘more information’ to come out in the coming days to corroborate his story about Trump’s remarks.

Wilkie discredited the claims to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, saying the president described in the report by anonymous sources does not reflect the Donald Trump he knows.

‘I would be offended, too, if I thought it was true,’ Wilkie said. ‘I am very proud that this president has led to a renaissance in veterans affairs.’

The report, published by the Atlantic Thursday, and credits four separate military sources, claims that Trump cancelled a visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in November 2018 because he was worried his hair would be disheveled by the rain.

In a conversation with senior staff before the planned visit, Trump reportedly asked aides: ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’

During the same trip, the president allegedly later referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives in the Battle of Belleau Wood in France as ‘suckers’ for getting killed. 

Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie (right) has joined a long list of officials in blasting a recent report in the Atlantic that claimed Trump has repeatedly made disparaging remarks about the US war dead, calling them ¿suckers¿ and ¿losers'

Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie (right) has joined a long list of officials in blasting a recent report in the Atlantic that claimed Trump has repeatedly made disparaging remarks about the US war dead, calling them ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’

Wilkie discredited the claims to CNN¿s State of the Union on Sunday, saying the president described in the report by anonymous sources does not reflect the Donald Trump he knows

Wilkie discredited the claims to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, saying the president described in the report by anonymous sources does not reflect the Donald Trump he knows

A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.

Trump, however, emphatically denied the report Thursday night, calling it ‘a disgraceful situation’ by a ‘terrible magazine.’

‘It’s a total lie. It’s fake news. It’s a disgrace, and frankly it’s a disgrace to your profession,’ Trump said, adding the trip was cancelled because of adverse weather conditions making it dangerous to travel by helicopter.

Wilkie backed-up the president’s protests Sunday, saying he doesn’t believe Trump would make such remarks, based on what he’s seen for himself.

‘So what I’m looking at is the Donald Trump that I know; the Donald Trump that has turned around Veterans Affairs from a place that in the Obama administration was 16 out of 17 in terms of best places to work,’ he said. ‘We’re now up to six.’

He added that the Obama administration had a 37 percent approval rating among veterans in 2014 and 2015, compared to 90 percent for President Trump.

Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also leapt to the president’s defense Friday, accusing Goldberg of entirely fabricating the report.

‘As you all can probably imagine, I have seen more than my share of outrageous (and false) attacks on the President over the last few years. But this whole injured soldiers thing really, really pushes the envelope,’ Mulvaney tweeted Friday.

‘I’ve never heard the President disparage our war dead or wounded. In fact, the exact opposite is true. I was with him at the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. As we flew over the beaches by helicopter he was outwardly in awe of the accomplishments of the Allied Forces, and the sacrifices they paid.’

The rebuttals come as the article¿s author, and the Atlantic's editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, has defended his decision to keep his sources anonymous and says he expects more information to come out in the coming days to corroborate his story about Trump¿s remarks

The rebuttals come as the article’s author, and the Atlantic’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, has defended his decision to keep his sources anonymous and says he expects more information to come out in the coming days to corroborate his story about Trump’s remarks

Johnny DeStefano, the former counselor to the president, also vehemently denied there’s any truth to the report, writing in a tweet: ‘I was on this trip. The Atlantic bit is not true. Period.’

Derek Lyons, staff secretary and counselor to the president, and Dan Walsh, former White House deputy chief of staff, have also both disputed the report.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed Lyons’ and Walsh’s admonishment of the claims in a Friday press conference in which she read out  statements on their behalf.

‘I was with the president the morning after the scheduled visit. He was extremely disappointed that arrangements could not be made to get him to the site and that the trip had been cancelled,’ Lyons’ statement read.

‘In all my time at the White House, I have never heard him utter a disparaging remark of any kind about our troops. In my view, he holds the brave men and women of our armed forces in the highest regard.’

McEnany then read out Walsh’s statement, which read: ‘I can attest it to the fact that there was a bad weather called in France and that the helicopters were unable to safely make the flight.

‘Overall, the president’s support and respect for our American troops past and present is unquestionable.’

Former national security adviser, John Bolton, who was with the president in France at the time – and has shared a number of high profile fallouts with him Trump – also went on the record to dispute the Atlantic’s report.

‘I didn’t hear either of those comments or anything even resembling them,’ Bolton told Fox News. ‘I was there at the point in time that morning when it was decided that he would not go Aisne-Marne cemetery … 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.’

Fox correspondent John Roberts, who conducted the Bolton interview, added that he has told him, ‘if [Donald Trump] had said he didn’t want to visit Aisne-Marne because the interred heroes were ‘losers’ and ‘suckers,’ he would have written an entire chapter about it in his book #TheRoomWhereItHappened.’

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018

Former national security adviser, John Bolton, who was with the president in France at the time ¿ and has shared a number of high profile fallouts with him Trump - also went on the record to dispute the Atlantic¿s report

Former national security adviser, John Bolton, who was with the president in France at the time – and has shared a number of high profile fallouts with him Trump – also went on the record to dispute the Atlantic’s report

Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also leaped to the president¿s defense Friday, accusing Goldberg of entirely fabricating the report

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed Lyons¿ and Walsh¿s admonishment of the claims in a Friday press conference in which she read out a statement on their behalf.

Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (left) also leapt to the president’s defense Friday, accusing Goldberg of entirely fabricating the report. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed Derek  Lyons’ and Dan Walsh’s admonishment of the claims in a Friday press conference in which she read out a statement on their behalf

Former White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, has decried the report as ‘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 … I am disgusted by this false attack.’

In total, 14 current or former White House staffers have spoken out against the Atlantic’s claims. They include Former Deputy White House Press Secretary, Hogan Gidley, who called the report ‘grotesque’, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino, and Jordan Karem, Personal Aide to President Trump.

‘This is not even close to being factually accurate,’ Karem wrote. ‘Plain and simple, it just never happened.’

The Atlantic's editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg told CNN's ¿Reliable Sources¿ on Sunday that he expects ¿more confirmation and new pieces of information¿ to come out in the coming days and weeks that will corroborate about the alleged incendiary comments

The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg told CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ on Sunday that he expects ‘more confirmation and new pieces of information’ to come out in the coming days and weeks that will corroborate about the alleged incendiary comments

The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg told CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ on Sunday that he expects ‘more confirmation and new pieces of information’ to come out in the coming days and weeks that will corroborate about the alleged incendiary comments.

Goldberg also addressed his use of anonymous sources, which has come under criticism from the president and others who believe that officials should not be allowed to launch bombshell allegations under the cloak of anonymity – particularly in the build up to an election.

‘These are not people who are anonymous to me,’ Goldberg told CNN. ‘We all have to use anonymous sources especially in a climate in which the president of the United States tries to actively intimidate journalism organizations and people who provide information to journalism organizations.’

Goldberg said his decision to publish the article was made confidently, because of the number of sources he had, and their close ties to the president.

‘The formula is simple,’ he continued. ‘What you do is you have to say, does the public’s right to know or need to know a particular piece of information outweigh the morally complicated and ambiguous qualities of anonymous sourcing.

‘Most of us, most of the time, don’t rely on anonymous sourcing for most things because there are difficulties there. But in this climate, with information that we judge the voters to need, we are going to use anonymous sources because we think the public has a right to know. Especially when you have four or five or six sources, primary sources, corroborating sources, telling you the same thing.’

Trump was meant to join John Kelly in paying his respects to Kelly's son's grave and comfort the families of other fallen service members in Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2017 (above). However, Trump reportedly turned to Kelly and said: 'I don't get it. What's in it for them?'

Trump was meant to join John Kelly in paying his respects to Kelly’s son’s grave and comfort the families of other fallen service members in Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2017 (above). However, Trump reportedly turned to Kelly and said: ‘I don’t get it. What’s in it for them?’

The president’s alleged comments are in stark contrast to Trump’s public persona as a self-proclaimed champion of the military and its veterans.

In the article, A source described to have first-hand knowledge of the president’s views said Trump ‘doesn’t see the heroism in fighting’. Other sources said Trump is deeply anxious about dying or being disfigured, and that fear manifests itself as disgust for those who have suffered.

The day of the planned visit at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, November 10, 2018, was also the 243rd birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Battle of Belleau Wood, which lasted 20 days in June 1918 and ended with German forces soundly defeated, was a defining moment in World War I for the Marine Corps.

But Trump, on the same trip, reportedly asked aides, ‘Who were the good guys in this war?’ He also said that he didn’t understand why the United States would intervene on the side of the Allies, the Atlantic reported.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump said he’s be ‘willing to swear on anything’ that he never said anything derogatory ‘about our fallen heroes.’

‘There is nobody that respects them more. No animal — nobody — what animal would say such a thing?’

He also wanted to go to the cemetery in France but said he was unable to because of heavy rainfall in Paris, and that the U.S. Secret Service would not allow him to motorcade there.

‘The helicopter could not fly. The reason it couldn’t fly, because it was raining as hard as I’d ever seen. And on top of that it was very, very foggy,’ Trump said on Thursday.

He added that staffers tried to arrange a motorcade, but that it would have meant going through busy parts of Paris.

‘The Secret Service told me, you can’t do it. I said I have to do it. They said you can’t do it,’ Trump said.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, also decried the report, saying ‘It’s sad the depths that people will go to during a lead-up to a presidential campaign to try to smear somebody.’

In a conversation with then-Chief of Staff John Kelly (seen above), Trump reportedly complained bitterly that he didn't understand why John McCain, who was imprisoned and tortured during Vietnam, was so revered

In a conversation with then-Chief of Staff John Kelly (seen above), Trump reportedly complained bitterly that he didn’t understand why John McCain, who was imprisoned and tortured during Vietnam, was so revered








In another account, detailed by the Atlantic, the president told senior advisers that he didn’t understand why the U.S. government placed such value on finding soldiers missing in action because they had performed poorly and gotten caught and deserved what they got, a source said.

The president allegedly said that those who served in the Vietnam War were also ‘losers’ because they failed to dodge the draft. Trump received a medical deferment from Vietnam over alleged bone spurs.

In a conversation with then-Chief of Staff John Kelly, Trump reportedly complained bitterly that he didn’t understand why John McCain, who was imprisoned and tortured during Vietnam, was so revered.

‘Isn’t he kind of a loser?’ Trump asked, according to the four sources.

Trump has previously derided McCain’s legacy as a war hero publicly. On the 2016 presidential campaign trail in Iowa, Trump said: ‘He’s not a war hero. I like people who weren’t captured.’

At the same event, Trump said ‘I don’t like losers’ referencing McCain losing the 2008 presidential election to Barack Obama.

‘I supported him. He lost. He let us down. But, you know, he lost. So I have never liked him as much after that, because I don’t like losers,’ he said.

The senior Marine Corps officer and the Atlantic, citing sources with firsthand knowledge, further reported that Trump said he didn’t want to support the August 2018 funeral of Republican Sen. John McCain.

The Atlantic reported that Trump was also angered that flags were flown at half-staff for McCain, saying: ‘What the f*** are we doing that for? Guy was a f***ing loser.’

Trump acknowledged Thursday he was ‘never a fan’ of McCain and disagreed with him, but said he still respected him and approved everything to do with his ‘first-class triple-A funeral’ without hesitation because ‘I felt he deserved it.’

The magazine said Trump also referred to former President George H.W. Bush as a ‘loser’ because he was shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.

Trump has previously derided McCain's legacy as a war hero publicly. On the 2016 presidential campaign trail in Iowa, Trump said: 'He's not a war hero. I like people who weren't captured.'

John McCain seen above

Trump has previously derided McCain’s legacy as a war hero publicly. On the 2016 presidential campaign trail in Iowa, Trump said: ‘He’s not a war hero. I like people who weren’t captured.’

The Atlantic also details another exchange between Trump and Kelly on Memorial Day, 2017, at the graveside of Kelly’s son, Robert, who died at 29 years old in Afghanistan in 2010.

Trump was meant to join Kelly in paying his respects to Robert’s grave and comfort the families of other fallen service members.

However, Trump reportedly turned to Kelly at his son’s graveside and said: ‘I don’t get it. What’s in it for them?’

The Defense officials also confirmed to The AP that Trump made the remarks.

One of Kelly’s friends, who is a four-star general, told the Atlantic: ‘[Trump] can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself. He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.

‘Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain. That’s why he would say this to the father of a fallen marine on Memorial Day in the cemetery where he’s buried,’ the source continued.

On Sunday, Trump went after the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, as she owns a stake in The Atlantic magazine.

‘’Steve Jobs would not be happy that his wife is wasting money he left her on a failing Radical Left Magazine that is run by a con man (Goldberg) and spews FAKE NEWS & HATE,’ Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. ‘Call her, write her, let her know how you feel!!!’

Laurene Powell Jobs (right) with her late husband Steve Jobs (left), the co-founder of Apple, at the Academy Awards in 2010

Laurene Powell Jobs (right) with her late husband Steve Jobs (left), the co-founder of Apple, at the Academy Awards in 2010 

President Donald Trump sent an outraged tweet Sunday morning aimed at Laurene Powell Jobs, who owns a stake in The Atlantic, suggesting that her late husband would be disappointed she was 'wasting money he left her' on a 'Radical Left Magazine'

President Donald Trump sent an outraged tweet Sunday morning aimed at Laurene Powell Jobs, who owns a stake in The Atlantic, suggesting that her late husband would be disappointed she was ‘wasting money he left her’ on a ‘Radical Left Magazine’ 

Trump had shared a tweet from Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, a youth conservative activist, that claimed Jobs had donated ‘at least $500,000 to Joe Biden ‘s campaign this year.’

Recode reported in July that Jobs was among the Silicon Valley mega-donors who were giving the max donation, or close to it, of $620,600 to Biden’s campaign.

Earlier in the cycle she gave money to some of Biden’s competitors, including Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

A 70 per cent stake of The Atlantic was purchased by Jobs’ Emerson Collective in 2017, according to Politico .

Biden, meanwhile, said Thursday, ‘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.’

‘Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members,’ he said in a statement Thursday night, adding that if he is elected president, ‘I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.’ Biden’s son Beau served in Iraq in 2008-09.

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