Biden brands Trump ‘disgusting’ over war dead row

5 September 2020, 06:50 | Updated: 5 September 2020, 11:37

President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic nominee Joe Biden (R)
President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic nominee Joe Biden (R). Picture: PA

By Megan White

Joe Biden branded President Donald Trump “disgusting” after he allegedly called fallen US troops “losers” and “suckers.”

The Democratic presidential nominee, whose son was an Iraq veteran, gave a furious press conference in which he said Mr Trump should “humbly apologise” if the reports were true.

In a shocking article from The Atlantic, it was claimed that President Trump cancelled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because “he feared his hair would become dishevelled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honour American war dead.”

Mr Trump allegedly said “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

He is also reported to have branded the 1,800 US marines who died at the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918 “suckers” for getting killed.

The President branded the story “fake” and said it was “made up.”

On Twitter, he wrote: “The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance. Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!”

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Biden said: “I want to speak a little bit about the revelations about President Trump’s disregard for our military and our veterans.

“Quite frankly, if what was written in The Atlantic is true, it’s disgusting, and it affirms what most of us believed to be true – that Donald Trump is not fit for the job of President or Commander in Chief.

“The President reportedly said, and I emphasise reportedly said, that those who sign up to serve instead of doing something more lucrative are suckers.

“Let me be real clear – when my son was a US Assistant Attorney and he volunteered to go to Kosovo, while the war was going on, as a civilian, he wasn’t a sucker.

“When my son volunteered, and joined the United States Military as the Attorney General, he went to Iraq for a year and won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he wasn’t a sucker.

“The servicemen and women he served with, particularly those who did not come home, were not losers.

“If these statements are true, the President should humbly apologise, to every Gold Star mother and father, and every Blue Star family, that he’s denigrated and insulted.

“Who the heck does he think he is?”

Discussing that day in 2018, LBC's Washington Correspondent Simon Marks said: "Now just on the facts: it was not, on that fateful day, raining particularly hard in Paris.

"And yes it was Paris….an easy, city, obviously to forget, especially when you’re there to honour 1,000 US marines cut down by German forces in northern France.

"A light drizzle was reported that day, and the President’s failure to make the journey raised immediate hackles with his French hosts who simply couldn’t understand it.

"The trip would have been just 90 minutes by car, not more than two hours…..probably even faster in the President’s motorcade.

"And both the French President Emmanuel Macron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had no difficulty honouring their nations’ war dead that day.

"Neither of them found the weather too inclement to do their national duty outdoors.

"Mr. Goldberg’s sources, including one retired 4 star general who sounds suspiciously like former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, said the President didn’t want his hair to get disheveled.

"There’s more…the article says the President routinely described wounded American soldiers as losers…. and American veterans killed in the line of duty as “suckers”.

"He didn’t want amputees from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere to participate in a military parade in Washington: “nobody wants to see that”, he said.

"Again, President Trump last night."

A video posted on Mr Biden’s Twitter also claimed Mr Trump said “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral” when discussing the passing of Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, including two years in solitary confinement.

But in another series of tweets, the President wrote: “I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things including ridiculous endless wars and the lack of success he had in dealing with the VA and our great Vets, but the lowering of our Nations American Flags, and the first class funeral he was given by our Country, had to be approved by me, as President, & I did so without hesitation or complaint.

“Quite the contrary, I felt it was well deserved. I even sent Air Force One to bring his body, in casket, from Arizona to Washington. It was my honour to do so.

“Also, I never called John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES.

“This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!”

Mr McCain's daughter Meghan wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "I just got through two years without my Dad a few days ago. The loss is still incredibly painful and raw.

"No one is more acutely aware of how vile and disgusting Trump has been to my family, it is still hard to understand - America knows who this man is.

"This never stops being incredibly painful, triggering, and it rips off new layers of grief that wreak havoc on my life. I wouldn't wish any of it on my worst enemy. I truly pray for peace for my family, our grief, and for this country."

Refuting the article, Vice President Mike Pence said he “rejected this story out of hand,” branding it “just one more anonymous smear job" against the President weeks before the election.

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said he “didn’t believe a word” of the article, which he said was "pretty sad."

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also said: I see President Trump consistently express his heartfelt gratitude and absolute admiration for our brave men and women in uniform.

"Just yesterday, he was truly humbled to be in the presence of our courageous World War II veterans.

"This Atlantic story is garbage!"

Mr Trump also denied calling the late Arizona senator John McCain, a decorated Navy officer who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, a "loser" after his August 2018 death.

The US president acknowledged on Thursday he was "never a fan" of Mr 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".

In 2015, shortly after launching his presidential candidacy, Mr Trump publicly blasted McCain, saying, "He's not a war hero."

He added: "I like people who weren't captured." At the time, Mr Trump also shared a news article on Twitter calling Mr McCain a "loser".