- A bombshell report from The Atlantic claims that President Donald Trump has made numerous derogatory remarks about U.S. veterans and military service members, including calling soldiers who died in the World War I battle at Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed.
- The report also claimed that he called the late senator John McCain a “loser” after his death. He also allegedly said that he did not want wounded veterans to participate in a 2018 military parade because “nobody wants to see that.”
- The report caught a lot of attention and resulted in many, including Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden, condemning the president for these remarks.
- However, Trump claims the report is a lie. He tweeted that while he was “never a big fan of John McCain,” he never called him a loser. “I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES,” the president added.
Trump Denies Report From The Atlantic
President Donald Trump denied allegations laid out in a Thursday report from The Atlantic which claimed he made insulting comments about veterans and members of the U.S. military.
The report alleges that Trump, among many other things, called servicemen who died in the World War I battle at Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed. In 2018 he was set to visit the cemetery in France where they were buried but canceled the trip. At the time, Trump cited that travel to the area was made impossible by rainy weather conditions. However, The Atlantic claims that the president did not go because he was concerned the rain would ruin his hair.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” the magazine claims he asked about the excursion. Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote the piece, says he learned about these remarks from four anonymous sources with firsthand knowledge of these discussions.
The report also claimed that he called the late senator John McCain a “loser” after he died.
Trump and McCain were known to have publicly sparred with each other before. McCain was a prisoner of war for five years and many have praised him as a war hero. During Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, however, he said he likes “people who weren’t captured” when referring to McCain.
On Thursday evening, Trump took to Twitter to deny the accusations in the article. In a Twitter thread, he said he was “never a big fan of John McCain” but “never called John a loser.”
“[I] swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES,” he added. “This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!”
He also spoke to reporters late on Thursday and claimed that no one has done what he has for the military in terms of budgets and pay raises. He also insisted that the Secret Service told him he could not go to the cemetery in France because of the weather.
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military and our fallen heroes, when nobody’s done what I’ve done,” Trump said.
“It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that’s a terrible magazine. I don’t read it,” he added.
The president continued his attacks against the report Friday morning by saying The Atlantic only published it to gain relevance because it was dying.
What Did the Report Say?
The Atlantic’s bombshell report paints the president as a man incapable of seeing why people, specifically military members, would make a sacrifice and put their life on the line for nothing in return. The piece goes so far as to claim he does not understand why anyone would do anything that gives them no monetary gain.
Trump himself received a medical deferment from the draft during the Vietnam War for alleged bone spurs. Accounts from Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, as well as from the daughters of the doctor who allegedly gave him this diagnosis, have since claimed that Trump did not have bone spurs and lied to get out of the war. White House officials have dismissed these claims.
The Atlantic told the story of one visit Trump made to Arlington National Cemetery with John Kelly, who was the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time. Kelly’s son Robert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010, is buried there. During the visit Trump allegedly asked Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star 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.”
The report also claims that Trump made several other derogatory remarks about military members, including calling former President George H.W. Bush a “loser” because he was shot down by the Japanese while serving as a navy pilot in World War II. When planning a military parade in 2018, he allegedly asked that wounded veterans not participate because “nobody wants to see that.”
Corroborations From Other Reports
While both Trump and the White House have denied this repellant portrait, other stories seemed to support the idea that Trump does not think well of members of the U.S. military. The Associated Press said a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer confirmed some of the remarks reported in The Atlantic to them, including those about the 2018 trip to the cemetery.
A former senior administration official who spoke to The Washington Post also claimed Trump called soldiers missing in action “losers.” He allegedly asked why the U.S. spends so much time looking for them because they deserved what they got for performing poorly. The Post also claimed that Trump called those who served in Vietnam “losers” because they were unable to get out of it.
Michael Cohen also tweeted that The Atlantic’s piece was “accurate.” He again maintained that there are no medical records related to Trump’s bone spurs.
The Atlantic’s article elicited numerous reactions after catching the nation’s attention. His Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, shared a video compilation of Trump’s derogatory remarks.
“Mr. President, if you don’t respect our troops, you can’t lead them,” Biden wrote.
“This is shocking, even for Trump,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote. “The men and women who lost their lives defending our country are patriots.”
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan called Trump’s attitude towards service members repugnant and asked for the president to be voted out of office.
His comments also received backlash from veterans, service members, and their families. Jordan Canedy, a 14-year-old Gold Star son condemned these remarks in an interview with MSNBC.
“He should be appreciative and not criticizing them,” he said. “He doesn’t know what it’s like to go to war.”
Army veteran David Weissman, who used to be an ardent supporter of Trump, started a social media campaign against the president over these remarks. He encouraged veterans to make pictures of themselves in the military their profile photos so they could show Trump how many people he offended.
In Trump’s camp though, many defended the president, insisting that The Atlantic’s report was false. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump treats military members with admiration and respect.
“The anonymous allegations contained in the Atlantic story are offensive, false, and utterly devoid of merit,” he said.
See what others are saying: (The Atlantic) (NPR) (Al Jazeera)
Campaign Season Gets Rolling This Month With Primaries in 13 States
Several of the contests taking place this month will serve as important tests for Trump-backed candidates and how much power the former president still has over the GOP.
May Primaries Start With Key Race in Ohio
The 2022 midterm season is officially heating up this month with 13 states heading to the polls.
Voters in Indiana and Ohio will kick off the busy month on Tuesday with several highly anticipated races, including one closely watched contest for the seat being vacated by long-time Senator Rob Portman (R-Oh.)
The fight for Portman’s seat has been a heated one: candidates have spent tens of millions of dollars, held numerous debates and forums, and at one point, two of them even got into a physical confrontation.
The main reason there are so many eyes on this race is because it will prove to be a key test for former President Donald Trump and the influence he has over the party. While Portman has generally been moderate and, at times, more readily critical of Trump than many others in his party, the Republican primary campaign has basically been a fight to see who is the most in line with Trump.
According to FiveThirtyEight, all but one of the seven Republican senate candidates embraced the former president’s election fraud lies as they fought for his coveted endorsement in a state he won by eight points in both 2016 and 2020.
Trump, for his part, ultimately ended up endorsing Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance in a move that surprised many, because Vance had previously been vocally opposed to the former leader and his competitors had spent months running ads noting that fact.
However, the fight for Trump’s backing appears to have been worth it. Last week, a Fox News poll found that support for Vance has surged by double-digits since Trump’s endorsement, making him the front-runner.
Still, as FiveThirtyEight reports, “other factions of the party haven’t given up the fight either — which means the primary will be a direct test of how much clout Trump has when other Republican elites dare to defy him.”
Meanwhile, there are also concerns regarding the ongoing legal battle over Ohio’s congressional map and the confusion that has caused for the state’s election calendar. For weeks, it was widely believed the state’s primaries would be pushed back after the Ohio Supreme Court ordered GOP lawmakers to redraw their map.
The map had been gerrymandered to give Republicans 12 out of the 15 congressional seats in the state even though they had only won around 55% of the popular vote. Ohio voters also previously passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that effectively banned partisan gerrymandering.
The election, however, is still going forward anyway, even as early voting was down a whopping 40% from the last election, and the legislative races will not be on the ballot Tuesday, meaning there will have to be a second primary, which will likely drive down turnout even more.
Other Major Races This Month
There are also other notable contests scheduled for later this month. On May 17, there will be two additional races for seats vacated by Republican senators in North Carolina and Pennsylvania that will serve as important indicators of the former president’s sway over the party.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, the main Trump test focuses on two statewide races for the positions currently held by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). The two infamously angered Trump after they refused to help him overturn the election, and as a result, many are watching to see if the former president’s full-fledged pressure campaign against them will work.
In Georgia and other battlegrounds voting this month, Democrats are also hoping they can make inroads — particularly in Pennsylvania. But recent polls have not painted a good picture for the party. Last week, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 47% of voters said they were more likely to vote for the Republican in their district, while just 44% said they would back Democrats.
The poll marked the first time in eight years that a Marist survey found the GOP with an advantage for congressional ballot tests.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (FiveThirtyEight) (PennLive)
New York’s Highest Court Strikes Down Democrat-Gerrymandered Map
The move represents a major blow to Democrats, who stood to gain as many as three seats in Congress if their map had been accepted.
Appeals Court Ruling
The New York State Court of Appeals struck down a congressional map drawn by the state’s Democrats Wednesday, dealing the party a major blow.
In the decision, the state’s highest court agreed with Republicans who had argued that the map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. The justices called the map “substantively unconstitutional as drawn with impermissible partisan purpose.”
The court also condemned the Democrats for ignoring a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014 that aimed to limit political influence in redistricting, which included the creation of an independent entity to draw maps that the legislature would then vote on. However, the commission created to prevent partisan gerrymandering was unable to decide on a map because of its own partisan stalemate. As a result, Democrats in the legislature took it upon themselves to draw a final map.
But the version that the legislature passed and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law re-drew lines so that Democrats could have gained as many as three new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Such gains would be highly significant in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans are expected to make substantial gains and may very well take back the House. Unsurprisingly, Republicans sued, and a lower court struck down the map.
In their order, the Appeals Court justices took away the legislature’s ability to make the map and instead delegated that power to a court-appointed “neutral expert.”
While the judges did say there was enough time to finish the map before the primary elections in June, they also added that the Congressional contests would likely need to be moved to August. Races for governor and other statewide officials, however, would stay the same.
The Appeals Court ruling is unique in that it targets Democrats, but it also comes as part of the broader trend of state courts cracking down on gerrymandering — though most other instances have stemmed from GOP-drawn maps.
In just the first four months of 2022, state courts in Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas, and Maryland have all struck down redistricting plans crafted by lawmakers.
Unlike the New York ruling, some of those other courts have implied that they will still allow those maps to be used in the 2022 elections. Such a decision would very likely disadvantage Democrats even more.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
McCarthy Warned Far-Right Lawmakers Could Incite Violence After Jan. 6 in New Audio of Leaked Call
The conversations represent a marked difference from the public efforts of McCarthy and other Republican leaders to downplay their members‘ actions.
Four days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) expressed concern about far-right Republicans inciting violence and openly voiced support for censoring them on Twitter, according to audio published by The New York Times on Tuesday.
The recordings, which come from a call among party leaders and aides on Jan. 10, are by far the clearest evidence top Republicans acknowledged that their members played a role in stoking violence before the insurrection and threatened to do so after.
They also emphasize the vast difference between what top Republicans, especially McCarthy, said behind closed doors, and how they downplayed and ignored the actions of their members in public.
One of the most notable elements of these recordings is that McCarthy and the others explicitly identified several individuals by name. They focused mainly on Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) and Mo Brooks (R-Al.) as the primary offenders.
In the audio, McCarthy can be heard flagging Gaetz right off the bat.
“Tension is too high. The country is too crazy,” he added. “I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don’t want to play politics with any of that.”
Specifically, McCarthy and the others talked about how Gaetz had gone on TV to attack multiple Republicans for being unsupportive of former President Donald Trump after Jan. 6. They particularly expressed concern over his targeting of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), who was a member of the leadership team and had already been facing threats.
Others on the call also noted that Brooks had spoken at the rally before the insurrection, where he made incendiary remarks that many have viewed as direct calls to violence. McCarthy said the public comments from his members “have to stop,” adding he would call Gaetz and have others do the same to tell him that this “is serious shit” and “to cut this out.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the second-ranking House Republican, asserted at one point that Gaetz’s actions were “potentially illegal.”
“Well, he’s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn’t need to be doing this,” McCarthy responded. “We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.”
Republicans on the call also mentioned incendiary remarks from other members, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), Barry Moore (R-Al.), and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.). Cheney pointed to Boebert as a security risk, noting she had tweeted out incredibly sensitive information about the movements of top leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) during the attack on the Capitol.
“Our members have got to start paying attention to what they say, too, and you can’t put up with that shit,” McCarthy added later. “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”
McCarthy in Hot Water
The newly published recordings also come just days after The Times reported that McCarthy had told members on a call after the insurrection that he would urge Trump to resign.
McCarthy initially called the reporting “totally false and wrong,” but shortly after his denial, The Times received permission from their source to publish audio where he can be heard saying precisely that.
McCarthy, for his part, has tried to spin the situation, claiming that his remarks were still true because he never actually followed through on the plan to call Trump.
Still, the situation prompted widespread backlash from the far-right faction of the Republican party.
Multiple people expressed hesitancy about their support for McCarthy as Speaker of the House if Republicans take control of the chamber in the midterm elections. Some said they could not trust him.
Speaking on his show Tuesday, Foxs News host Tucker Carlson called McCarthy “a puppet of the Democratic Party.”
Gaetz also responded with ire, tweeting out a statement in which he referred to the call as “sniveling” and said of McCarthy and Scalise: “This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.”
Other members mentioned in the call, however, appeared to brush it off. In a statement to Axios, Moore claimed that the story was engineered by “RINOS” (Republicans in Name Only), and that “Republicans will be more united than ever after taking back the House this November.”
It currently remains unclear whether these revelations with pose any long-term threat to McCarthy, but if Trump is any indication of the far-right party line, the House leader may be in the clear.
After The Times published the audio of McCarthy saying Trump should resign, the former president told The Wall Street Journal that the relationship between the two men was untroubled.
“I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly,” he added. “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”