Daily US Times: President Donald Trump has described as a “slimeball” a journalist who quoted him as saying US war deads were “suckers” and “losers”.
Mr Trump likened the Atlantic magazine report to unproven accusations made against him of colluding with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.
The damning quotes were corroborated independently by The Associated Press (AP).
Veterans’ groups are among those condemning the US President, less than two months from the 2020 election.
A video posted by progressive group VoteVets featured whose children had been killed in action. One says: “You don’t know what it is to sacrifice.”
“Who is really surprised by this?” Paul Rieckhoff of the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America tweeted.
On Saturday, a small group of protesters waved placards at the president’s motorcade near the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.
The President has often staked a claim to strong support among the military, and last year a study from Pew Research Center found that veterans were generally supportive of him as commander-in-chief, with 57% in favour. The research found that three-fifths of the veterans identified as Republican.
What is Trump reported to have said?
When Mr Trump cancelled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery outside Paris in November 2018, 100 years after the end of World War One, he said it was “filled with losers”, according to The Atlantic.
Four sources told the magazine he had rejected the idea of visiting because he did not believe it important to honour America’s war dead and the rain would dishevel his hair.
During the same trip, President Trump also allegedly referred to 1,800 US soldiers who died at Belleau Wood as “suckers”. The battle helped to prevent a German advance on Paris during World War One and is venerated by the US Marine Corps.
The Atlantic’s reporting was based on anonymous sources but a “senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments” and a “senior Defense Department official with first-hand knowledge of events” confirmed the cemetery comments to AP.
The White House said in 2018 that the cemetery visit had been cancelled because bad weather had grounded the president’s helicopter. This account was backed up in a recent book by John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, who has been a vocal critic of Mr Trump.
In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act from Buzzfeed reporter Jason Leopold, the US Navy also said it cancelled the trip to the cemetery because of rain.