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Trump denies report that he called John McCain and US soldiers who died in battle 'losers'

Trump denies report that he called John McCain and US soldiers who died in battle 'losers'
Posted at 8:07 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 10:53:10-04

President Donald Trump refuted a report from The Atlantic on Thursday that claimed he called Sen. John McCain and U.S. soldiers who died fighting for their country "losers" and "suckers."

According to The Atlantic, in the days after McCain's death in August 2018, Trump told senior staff members that he did not want to support that "loser's" funeral and became "furious" that flags at the White House had been lowered to half-staff in McCain's honor.

McCain spent more than five years in a Vietnamese war camp after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam war. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump responded to criticism from McCain by saying he liked soldiers who "weren't captured."

The outlet also reported that Trump made similar comments during a trip to Paris in 2018, when a visit to nearby Aisne-Marne American Cemetery was canceled due to rain. While officials at the time claimed the Secret Service was unable to fly a helicopter due to the weather, senior staff members who were in Paris claim the trip was canceled because Trump believed his hair would be ruined in the rain.

Trump also reportedly claimed the cemetery — a memorial site to hundreds of American soldiers who were killed during World War I — was "filled with losers" and "suckers."

Much of the reporting was further confirmed in reports by The Washington Post and The Associated Press.

In a series of tweets on Thursday evening, Trump denied the accusations, calling them "fake news." He claimed he called for flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff "without hesitation or complaint" following McCain's death.

"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," Trump tweeted on Thursday.

Trump previously called McCain a "loser" in a 2015 tweet. Trump was also criticized in 2018 for raising flags up to full staff two days after McCain's death instead of after his burial, as is precedent. Flags were later lowered back to half-staff.

Trump also defended his record with the military by citing the Veteran's Choice bill, which he signed into law in 2017. That bill was written by McCain.

In comments to pool reporters later on Thursday, Trump again claimed the comments were "made up," and said they "probably" came from a "failed" former member of his administration that he "couldn't get rid of fast enough."