President Trump denies mocking US soldiers captured or killed in battle

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President Donald Trump has denied accusations that he made disparaging remarks about US soldiers who were captured or killed in battle.

US President Donald Trump waves to the crowd on the first day of the Republican National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center on August 24, 2020.   David T. Foster III-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

Donald Trump says the idea he does not support the US military is “unthinkable”. Photo: Pool / Getty Images / AFP

According to The Atlantic magazine, Trump cancelled a visit to a US cemetery outside Paris in 2018 because he said it was “filled with losers”.

The allegations have since been corroborated by two senior military officials in a story by AP news agency.

But in a tweet, the president denounced the claims as “made up fake news”.

During a visit to France in 2018, Trump cancelled a visit to the Aise-Marne American Cemetery, and at the time the White House blamed poor weather.

However four sources told The Atlantic he rejected the idea of visiting because the rain would dishevel his hair, and he did not believe it important to honour America’s war dead.

During the same trip, the president also allegedly referred to 1800 US soldiers who died at Belleau Wood as “suckers”. The battle helped to prevent a German advance on Paris during World War I and is venerated by the US Marine Corps.

Three sources told The Atlantic that, on at least two occasions, Trump also called former president George HW Bush a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese while serving as a Navy pilot during World War II.

“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” an unnamed, retired military general told The Atlantic. “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.”

Speaking with reporters, Trump called The Atlantic’s report “unthinkable”.

“To think that I would make statements negative to our military and our fallen heroes when nobody’s done what I’ve done with the budgets, with the military budgets, with getting pay raises for our military,” said the president. “It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that’s a terrible magazine.”

Trump has been criticised in the past for his comments on military veterans. In 2015 he questioned the heroism of Republican Senator John McCain, who was captured during the Vietnam War.

“I like people who weren’t captured,” he said during an interview.

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Donald Trump questioned the war record of the late Republican Senator John McCain. Photo: AFP

Trump received five deferments from a military draft during the Vietnam War – four for academic reasons and one for bone spurs, a calcium build-up in the heels.

Trump also called McCain a “loser” for his unsuccessful run at the US presidency in 2008, something he falsely claimed he had never done in a tweet on Tuesday.

“I supported him for president, I raised a million dollars for him, that’s a lot of money. I supported him, he lost, he let us down, you know he lost. So I never liked him as much after that, because I don’t like losers,” Trump said in an interview in 2015.

– BBC

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