- A former senior White House official said the controversial remarks President Donald Trump was reported to have made, according to The Atlantic, resembled his speech pattern and was “so consistent with who he is.”
- “He uses the word ‘loser’ as often as he can,” the former official told Insider, adding that Trump’s interest in the military was “totally disingenuous.”
- Trump was said to have called notable US military veterans, including Sen. John McCain and President George H.W. Bush a “loser,” according to The Atlantic’s previous reporting.
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A former senior White House official acknowledged that the controversial remarks President Donald Trump was reported to have said about the military resembled his speech pattern and was “so consistent with who he is.”
“I’m not surprised hearing about the comments,” a former senior White House official told Insider. “I’ve known Donald Trump. It sounds like him. They’re consistent with things that he’s said.”
“He uses the word ‘loser’ as often as he can,” they added.
The comment comes as Trump was widely panned by critics following a report from The Atlantic that was published Thursday evening. According to several unnamed sources in the report, Trump had made multiple disparaging remarks about military veterans and appeared callous to the sacrifices made by service members.
During a trip to Paris in 2018, Trump reportedly resisted the idea of visiting a military cemetery to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, saying that the revered site was “filled with losers” and “suckers” who died.
The Atlantic report, which was written by the publication’s editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, also noted that Trump made critical remarks about former Republican leaders who served in the military. Three sources told Goldberg that Trump was furious at Sen. John McCain of Arizona, even after his death from an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2018. McCain and Trump have long been at odds with each other, despite being in the same political party.
“We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” Trump said after McCain’s death, according to The Atlantic. The US senator’s funeral included a widely-attended proceeding at the Capitol Rotunda from both Democratic and Republican icons, including Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Trump was not invited to the proceedings.
“What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—ing loser,” Trump reportedly said after US flags were lowered to half-staff out of respect for McCain.
Trump also described President George H.W. Bush as a “loser,” because the former president’s aircraft crashed during World War II, the Atlantic reported. Both McCain and Bush served in the US Navy as pilots and were shot down by enemy forces.
Following the publication of The Atlantic’s story, other news organizations have confirmed the alleged remarks with their own reporting. Fox News also confirmed in its report portions of The Atlantic’s original story, including a claim that Trump referred to Vietnam War draftees as “suckers.” Trump received five deferments — four for attending college and one for a bone spur diagnosis — and was not required to serve in the war.
Long before The Atlantic published its report, Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump made similar comments about successfully avoiding the Vietnam War: “You think I’m stupid, I’m not going to Vietnam,” Cohen recalled Trump as saying, during a congressional testimony in 2019.
A book written by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters from the Washington Post, also references Trump berating his senior military leaders and describing them as “dopes and babies” — in addition to “losers.”
“You’re all losers,” Trump said at a meeting with his national security team in 2017, according to the book “A Very Stable Genius.” “You don’t know how to win anymore.”
Trump, in addition to his advisers, publicly denied the claims made in The Atlantic’s report. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday characterized The Atlantic as “liberal activists,” and provided emails of weather reports that threw cold water on claims that Trump did not want to visit the Paris cemetery because of fears that his hair “would become disheveled” from the inclement weather.
In a late-night tweet on Thursday, Trump also acknowledged he “was never a big fan” of McCain and that he “disagreed with him on many things.” Still, he claimed, he “never called John a loser.”
But the description of McCain as a “loser” echoes much of what Trump has said in the past: “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said of McCain’s time as a prisoner of war, during his presidential campaign in 2015. Trump added at the time, “I don’t like losers.”
Following the event, Trump also tweeted a link to a political blog that quoted his remarks. The president’s tweet is still viewable on his personal Twitter account.
The callous tone of Trump’s comments about America’s veterans is on par with the president, the former senior White House official told Insider. The official recalled that immediately after Trump called the family members of US Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, a soldier who was killed during a militant ambush in Niger in 2017, the president’s behavior was as though “it was another day at the office for him.”
That same phone call was criticized by Johnson’s widow, who said at the time that it had “made me cry even worse.”
“The president said that ‘he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyways,'” Myeshia Johnson said during an interview with ABC. “It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”
One current Trump administration official told The Daily Beast that Trump’s seemingly indifference towards the military was not intentional.
“The president means no disrespect to our troops; it’s just that the way he speaks, he can sound like an asshole sometimes,” the official said to The Daily Beast, adding, “it’s his style.”
The former White House official disputed that assertion to Insider; however, and called it “totally disingenuous.”
“When I saw Donald Trump hugging the flag, it reminded me of Donald Trump the performer; the showman pandering,” the former senior official told Insider, referring to the multiple occasions in which Trump physically embraced the US flag. “Not Donald Trump, the commander-in-chief; the person who actually is responsible for what happens with our military.”