Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie told CNN on Sunday that he does not believe that President Donald Trump referred to dead soldiers as “losers,” and brushed off disparaging comments he’d made about Sen. John McCain as “just politics.”
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, reports surfaced this week that during a visit to France in 2018, the president canceled a planned trip to a Paris-area cemetery that holds the graves of American soldiers killed during World War I, ostensibly due to bad weather.
He reportedly quipped that he didn’t want to go there anyway, because the dead are “losers.” At another point during the same trip, he allegedly referred to the nearly 2,000 Marines who died at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
Trump, for his part, has vehemently denied the allegations.
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military when nobody has done what I’ve done, with the budgets and the military budget. We’re getting pay raises for the military. It is a disgraceful situation,” he said previously.
Wilkie told interviewer Dana Bash that he doesn’t believe Trump said those things, saying he never heard Trump making such comments.
“Absolutely not. And I would be offended too if I thought it was true,” he said.
The narrative that Trump purportedly disparaged dead U.S. troops is based on allegations and hearsay, and so far those claims do not appear to be backed up by audio and/or video evidence, although other unnamed officials have confirmed some of those allegations. Similarly, various news outlets have also corroborated at least parts of the original story.
However, when it comes to Trump making statements about people who have served in war, in one particular case there is no ambiguity: that of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain. Trump has repeatedly made remarks about him, on the record and with microphones recording, that could be viewed as unkind, such as in 2015 when Trump suggested that McCain wasn’t a war hero because he’d been captured.
Wilkie suggested that Trump made those comments in the heat of the moment.
“Well, it’s politics. It’s the heat of a campaign,” he said.
Wilkie went on to claim that no president has done more for veterans and the military since World War II than Trump.
“I watched this president sign letters of condolences to those who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was on the the frontlines then, so I’m judging the president by what he’s done as president,” he said.