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Former national security adviser John Bolton is coming to President Donald Trump’s defense over allegations that he disparaged fallen American soldiers.
What’s the background?
Left-leaning magazine the Atlantic triggered a tsunami of controversy for the president last week after publishing a story claiming Trump referred to fallen American soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” The Atlantic’s story was based on four anonymous sources.
“The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic,” the outlet reported.
The allegations center on a canceled visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery — located in Belleau in the north of France — in 2018. Belleau Wood is the location of a famous World War I battle in which American troops stopped German soldiers from advancing on Paris.
According to the Atlantic, Trump blamed the canceled visit on bad whether and the Secret Service not wanting to take a motorcade to the remote area. The magazine alleged that “neither claim was true.”
What did Bolton say?
Speaking on Fox News Monday, Bolton — who was with the president on the trip in question — said the claims about Trump as presented in the Atlantic are “simply false.”
“I don’t know who told the author that, but that was false,” Bolton said.
In fact, Bolton explained, “The main issue was whether or not weather conditions permitted the president to go out to the cemetery.” Bolton’s recollection of the facts was consistent with how he told the story in his book.
In response to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin — who reported that she confirmed the Atlantic’s reporting — Bolton said Griffin’s reporting was incorrect, but said Trump routinely disparages others.
“The president has a habit of disparaging people. He ends up denigrating almost everybody that he comes in contact with whose last name is not Trump,” Bolton said.
Last week, in an interview with the New York Times, Bolton reiterated that the Atlantic’s reporting was not true — but alleged that Trump could have made disparaging remarks about American troops when he was not present.
“I didn’t hear that,” Bolton said of the Belleau Wood allegation. “I’m not saying he didn’t say them later in the day or another time, but I was there for that discussion.”