With just a scant two months to go before the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump suffered a significant campaign setback on Thursday when a bombshell published by the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic detailed insulting comments Trump has made about American military service members throughout his term in office. Among the most damaging claims, are that Trump has called those who have fallen in combat “losers” and “suckers” who sacrificing their lives for our country.
“He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” alleged a retired four-star general who is friends with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.”
The piece also cited Trump’s obsession with the late Senator John McCain—continuing well after the war hero’s death—which has been well documented by comments the president himself has publicly made across various platforms.
After the news of the story broke on Thursday, Trump went on the defense in a series of tweets that inexplicably seemed to double down on his remarks. “I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things,” he started off, before painting himself as the hero who allowed for the “first-class funeral” McCain was given following his 2018 death.
As he returned from a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, on Thursday night, Trump also reiterated his denial of the allegations.
“I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes,” he told reporters. “There is nobody that respects them more. No animal—nobody—what animal would say such a thing?” The president also denied that he refused to visit fallen American soldiers at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018, over reports that he was afraid that the wind and rain would ruin his hair.
Yet, nothing published in the Atlantic piece seems like much of a stretch going by what we already know of Trump based on his own words and actions.
In fact, The Associated Press was able to confirm some of the witness accounts on Friday, speaking with a “senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events,” as well as a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was able to confirm some of the remarks, including the 2018 cemetery comments.
As damaging as this story appears to be, however, it remains to be seen whether it will affect November’s election. Keep in mind, the infamous Access Hollywood tape was leaked just one month before the 2016 election, and—though Trump failed to win the popular vote—it evidently still wasn’t enough to swing undecided voters.
Will flagrantly disrespecting our troops be the thing that finally takes Trump down? Either way, the next two months will be a wild ride—though not a particularly enjoyable one.