Donald Trump took to Twitter to publicly deny a report that he called the late Arizona Senator John McCain a loser, a claim that had been included in a bombshell report alleging Trump repeatedly disparaged members of the U.S. military.
But as Buzzfeed News pointed out, the president has publicly used the word “losers” when referring to McCain during a dig at him in 2015.
Trump and his White House allies have come out strongly against a report from The Atlantic on Thursday claiming the president spoke poorly of military members and expressed confusion about why they would be willing to sacrifice their lives. The Atlantic claimed Trump skipped a 2018 ceremony in France honoring American troops killed in World War I because he was afraid of getting his hair wet and then wondered why people would want to visit the graves of “losers” who were “suckers” for having been killed in battle.
Trump has denied all aspects of the story, including the claim that he did not want to support holding a funeral for McCain after his death in 2018. The Atlantic also claimed the president referred to McCain as a “loser,” which he took to Twitter to deny.
“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!” Trump wrote.
But while he may have been referring specifically to the allegation that he referred to McCain as a “loser” following the 2008 presidential candidate’s death, he has previously used that exact wording when referring to McCain. While campaigning in Iowa in 2015, Trump famously said that McCain was not a hero because he had been shot down and captured during the Vietnam War. As Buzzfeed News pointed out, he even shared an article on Twitter with a headline that directly quoted him calling McCain a loser.
“He lost [the 2008 election], so I never liked him as much after that because I don’t like losers,” he said. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
The claim that Trump disparaged members of the military has attracted widespread condemnation, including from the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, which already released an ad attacking the commander in chief for it.