The report offers firsthand knowledge from people who spoke with the president on the day he made these comments in 2018. According to The Atlantic, Trump cancelled his visit to a French cemetery for American Marines killed in World War I saying it was because of rain, but this may not have been the case. Senior staff members who spoke with him on the morning of the scheduled visit clearly heard Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” Then, in a separate conversation, Trump allegedly referred to marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for being killed.
Ultimately, the account shows Trump disparaging wounded veterans, saying they should not march in a military parade, and shows questioning why anyone would join the armed forces. And since this report came out, Trump has adamantly denied making these remarks. “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more. So, I just think it’s a horrible, horrible thing,” Trump said on Thursday.
For his part, President Trump has never served in the armed forces, and received a medical deferment from Vietnam. But he has — on paper — remained supportive of defense members and veterans, making these negative remarks baffling to some. During his administration, the president increased military spending by more than $200 billion, made an uproar about throwing a massive parade for Veterans Day, and made space for high-ranking military officers in his Cabinet. Clearly, though, he’s not committed to talking the walk.
Despite his immediate denial, the backlash to Trump's alleged comments may be irreversible, with veterans and military members posting how offended they are on social media, changing their display names to “former Trump supporter” and telling stories of their time serving the country.
This situation could be a wakeup call for Trump, who is now losing support from a big part of his own voter base. But, in 2020, is anything Trump says really all that surprising?