KEY POINTS

  • President Trump referred to Americans who died during World War I as "losers," sources told The Atlantic
  • Trump canceled a trip to honor the dead because the rain would dishevel his hair, according to the report
  • Sources say the president called the casualties at the Battle of Belleau Wood "suckers"

President Donald Trump called American Marines who died and were buried at a French cemetery outside Paris during World War I “losers,” according to a report by The Atlantic.

The president was expected to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in November 2018 to honor the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He canceled at the last minute, saying the rain kept his helicopter from flying. Trump also said he asked the Secret Service to drive him to the cemetery, but the agency refused. 

However, four people with firsthand knowledge of the incident said the president canceled the trip because he was worried the rain would dishevel his hair. The four sources also claimed Trump did not think it was necessary to honor the dead buried there. 

“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the president reportedly told staff members before canceling the trip. In another conversation, Trump reportedly asked his aides why the U.S. intervened and sided with the Allied forces. 

In a separate incident, Trump referred to nearly 1,800 marines who died at the Battle of Belleau Wood “suckers.” Belleau Wood holds a significant place in Marine Corps history as it is where American forces kept the German troops from advancing towards Paris.

Officials from the White House dismissed The Atlantic’s report as fake news. In a tweet, deputy press secretary Judd Deere condemned the publication for “tearing down” the president “who loves the military.”

Hogan Gidley, the Trump 2020 campaign's national press secretary, called the story "completely ludicrous" in a Thursday statement: "It's sickening that they would hide in the shadows to knowingly try to hurt the morale of our great military simply for an attack on a politcal opponent."

Trump has made several controversial statements about war veterans. In 2015, he said Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War, as reported by Politico

McCain was a Navy fighter pilot when his plane was shot down behind enemy lines and he became a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. He was held and tortured by the North Vietnamese forces in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” for more than five years. McCain was placed in solitary confinement for two of those years. 

"He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said in July 2015. “I like people who weren't captured."

US President Donald Trump's message is not subtle, but is gaining focus US President Donald Trump's message is not subtle, but is gaining focus Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski