President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to explain the reason why he did not appear on Saturday at a U.S. military cemetery in France for a memorial event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
“By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary [sic] in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!” said Trump, echoing previous statements from White House officials and blaming the media for allegedly failing to tell the whole story about his absence at the event.
As reported by BBC News on Tuesday, Donald Trump was strongly criticized for canceling his Saturday visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in northern France due to heavy rains. Critics pointed out how world leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau braved the bad weather and the distance to attend memorial events on that day. However, the White House issued a statement defending Trump’s decision not to travel almost 100 miles from Paris to Aisne-Marne, explaining that “near-zero visibility” amid the rains grounded the presidential helicopter.
Additionally, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the president did not want to cause further “unexpected” disruptions to Paris traffic by traveling to the cemetery via motorcade. According to BBC News, Trump visited another American cemetery closer to Paris on Sunday in lieu of his absence during the Saturday memorial event at Aisne-Marne.
As further noted by BBC News, Trump’s rain-related excuse got criticism from former Secretary of State John Kerry, who tweeted that rain was no obstacle for the American soldiers who died fighting for their country in World War I. Ben Rhodes, who was former President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, stressed in a separate tweet that “there is always a rain option” when a president has to make an official visit.
While Donald Trump’s tweet explaining his reasons for canceling his cemetery visit got more than 30,000 likes in less than hour after it was posted, the president drew even more criticism from Twitter users, as many commented on how French officials traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony on Monday that honored the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. One user said that they “expected a better excuse” from Trump, given that his post came three days after he missed the event at Aisne-Marne. Others criticized the president for his use of the term “fake news,” again bringing up how many other world leaders turned up for the event despite the rains.