Current and former officials who were with President Donald Trump on his 2018 trip to Paris denied, on the record, a story published by the Atlantic, which cited anonymous sources that claim Trump described America’s fallen heroes as “suckers” and “losers.”
The Atlantic story cited anonymous sources who claimed that Trump did not want to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood during his visit to Paris in 2018 and that he was worried about his hair in the rain. The sources also claimed that Trump said the cemetery was “filled with losers” and that the Marines who died at Belleau Wood were “suckers” for being killed.
The trip to the cemetery was canceled last-minute due to rain and fog preventing Marine One from safely taking the trip from Paris to the cemetery. It was also reportedly prohibitively difficult to travel 50 miles to the site via motorcade because it would require widescale traffic shutdowns in some of the busiest parts of Paris.
Jordan Karem, the president’s former body man who was present during the trip, weighed in on Twitter.
“This is not even close to being factually accurate. Plain and simple, it just never happened,” Karem wrote. “Again, this is 100 percent false. I was next to the president the whole day! The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes.”
Senior Adviser to the President, Stephen Miller, who was also present for the trip, described the story as a “despicable lie.”
“The president deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call,” he said in comments to the Washington Examiner.
Former Counselor to the President Johnny DeStefano also denounced the story.
“I was on this trip. The Atlantic bit is not true. Period,” he wrote shortly on Twitter.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described the story as “total BS.”
“The Atlantic story on Donald Trump is total BS,” she wrote, “I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion – this never happened.”
Sanders said she was “disgusted” by the attack published in the Atlantic, recalling the moments she witnessed President Trump meeting with veterans.
“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,” she said.
Former Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley described the story as filled with “disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies.”
“I was there in Paris and the President never said those things,” he wrote. “In fact, he would never even think such vile thoughts because I know from firsthand knowledge that President Trump absolutely loves, respects, and reveres the brave men and women of the United States military. He always has and always will.”
Gidley also referred to the anonymous Atlantic sources as “cowardly.”
“It’s sickening that they would hide in the shadows to knowingly try and hurt the morale of our great military simply for an attack on a political opponent,” he wrote.
Gidley currently works on the Trump 2020 campaign as a National Press Secretary.
One of President Trump’s closest aides, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Dan Scavino also condemned the story.
“I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all,” he wrote on Twitter. “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!!”
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has since become a Trump critic, detailed the trip in his book, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir and confirmed that rain and bad visibility canceled the trip.
“Marine One’s crew was saying that bad visibility could make it imprudent to chopper to the cemetery. The ceiling was not too low for Marines to fly in combat, but flying POTUS was obviously something very different,” he wrote.
Bolton also explained why a motorcade trip was difficult.
“If a motorcade were necessary, it could take between ninety and a hundred and twenty minutes each way, along roads that were not exactly freeways, posing an unacceptable risk that we could not get the President out of France quickly enough in case of an emergency,” he wrote, describing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s decision to cancel the trip as “straightforward,” but also “very hard for a Marine like Kelly to recommend.”
Bolton had nothing but derision for the press for suggesting that Trump was lazy or unwilling to make the trip in the rain.
“The press turned canceling the cemetery visit into a story that Trump was afraid of the rain and took glee in pointing out that other world leaders traveled around during the day,” he wrote. “Of course, none of them were the President of the United States, but the press didn’t understand that rules for US Presidents are different from rules for 190 other leaders who don’t command the world’s greatest military forces.”