Over 20 former and current Trump administration officials have made on the record denials of The Atlantic's story that claimed President Trump canceled visiting a World War I cemetery because he did not want to get his hair wet and he made disparaging remarks about those killed in battle, further hurting its credibility.
The opening lede of The Atlantic's story, authored by Editor in Chief Jeffery Goldberg, has brought on new criticisms for Trump by Democrats, but it all comes from four anonymous sources:
"When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that 'the helicopter couldn’t fly' and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, 'Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.' In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as 'suckers' for getting killed.
In the time since the story was published, 21 officials who were part of the trip have said the claims in the story simply aren't true.
The 21st denial comes from retired Maj. Gen. William Matz, who was the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission and who was in France and coordinated the events where the comments were allegedly made.
In a statement posted by White House Deputy Communications Director Brian Morgenstern, Matz called The Atlantic's story "false and despicable," adding he heard how disappointed Trump was when he was unable to visit the cemetery due to poor weather conditions.
Make it 21 statements refuting The Atlantic’s false reporting & demonstrating @realDonaldTrump’s respect for our nation’s heroes.— Brian Morgenstern (@BMorgenstern45) September 8, 2020
This from retired Maj. Gen. William Matz, who was present in France during the time in question: pic.twitter.com/XF1oVtcqbR
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton debunked the rain claim in his book, where he heavily criticizes Trump, again saying the trip was canceled to unsafe flying conditions. He told Fox News on Monday the whole story is "simply false."
Others who have gone on the record include former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes.
Fuentes told Breitbart News, “You can put me on record denying that I spoke with The Atlantic. I don’t know who the sources are. I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather. Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?" adding The Atlantic's sources are most likely not firsthand accounts.