In 2018, Donald Trump canceled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris. At the time, his excuse was it was too wet outside to see the final resting place of nearly 2,300 Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the first world war. The Atlantic has just published an unbelievable account of what happened during that trip to France, as well as allegations concerning Trump statements about fallen soldiers that, if true, are abhorrent.
While it was widely accepted that Trump’s excuse that the rain scared his Secret Service detail from bringing him to the cemetery that day was bogus, the details The Atlantic has, from a handful of sources, paint the Donald in the sad, pale, monstrous light we have come to expect from the president. One example is that Trump allegedly called the 1,800 American soldiers who died at the battle in Belleau Wood during World War I “suckers.” That is not a typo. He reportedly also asked who the “good guys” were in the war and “didn’t understand why the United States would intervene on the side of the Allies.”
Associated Press investigative reporter James LaPorta tweeted a second attestation of The Atlantic story: “A senior Defense Department official I just spoke with confirmed this story by @JeffreyGoldberg in its entirety. Especially the grafs about the late Sen. John McCain and former Marine Gen. John Kelly, President @realDonaldTrump
former chief of staff.”
A senior Defense Department official I just spoke with confirmed this story by @JeffreyGoldberg in its entirety. Especially the grafs about the late Sen. John McCain and former Marine Gen. John Kelly, President @realDonaldTrump former chief of staff. https://t.co/ol2lhBbgv8
— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) September 3, 2020
According to the article, Trump questioned senior staff members as to why he had to go to visit the cemetery in the first place, as it was “filled with losers.” Various sources “with firsthand knowledge” said Trump feared his hair would get messed up if he traveled in the rain. Nobody pointed out to him that his hair has been messed up for about 70 years. This is not surprising, of course, as many will remember Trump’s attack on the late Sen. John McCain for being a POW in Vietnam.
But even more telling is the story The Atlantic relays that took place on Memorial Day in 2017, when Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery. Trump was accompanied by John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security, and this exchange took place:
The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.
Trump’s blunt mediocrity and ghastly view of everyone not named Donald Trump seems to have allowed many people around him to believe he was simply crass and vulgar, not the straight-up monstrously self-involved and corrupt failure of the cosmos we all know him to be. And while this story does feel like the lazy depiction of a 1990s action film villain, Donald Trump has repeatedly proven himself to be as dumb and dangerous as one would imagine a cartoon villain to be.