- President Donald Trump referred to two Republican leaders who served in the US military as “losers” because they were shot down by enemies, The Atlantic reported.
- Trump was referring to the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former President George H.W. Bush, both of whom served in the US Navy as fighter pilots, the report said.
- Trump and McCain were longtime political foes despite both being Republicans, and Trump was reportedly angry that McCain was given half-staff honors after his death in 2018.
- Trump also said to his staff of McCain, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” sources told The Atlantic.
- White House communications director Alyssa Farah denied the claims made in The Atlantic’s report and called it “offensive and patently false.”
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President Donald Trump referred to two prominent Republican leaders who previously served in the US military as “losers” because they were shot down by enemy forces, several sources told The Atlantic.
Trump was reportedly referring to the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former President George H.W. Bush, both of whom served in the US Navy as fighter pilots.
McCain died in 2018 after a months-long fight with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He and Trump were longtime political foes despite both being in the Republican Party after McCain criticized Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
After McCain’s death, Trump was angry when the late senator received half-staff flag honors, The Atlantic reported. Trump also told his staff of McCain, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” sources with knowledge of the conversations told the outlet.
“What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—ing loser,” Trump reportedly added.
The McCain family did not invite Trump or his family members to John McCain’s funeral, but Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, still attended. McCain’s eldest daughter, Meghan McCain, later told late-night host Stephen Colbert that she did not know Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were going to be there and wished they hadn’t come.
Trump has drawn sharp backlash for his denigration of McCain’s military service during the 2016 campaign. The former Arizona senator’s plane was shot down during the Vietnam War and he was tortured by North Vietnamese forces for more than five years. He received the Silver Star for his heroism.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said of McCain in July 2015. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured. OK? I hate to tell you.”
Last year, Trump appeared to imply that McCain was in hell during an appearance at the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
“We needed 60 votes” to repeal the Affordable Care Act, “and we had 51 votes,” Trump said. “And sometimes, you know, we had a little hard time with a couple of them, right? Fortunately, they’re gone now. They’ve gone on to greener pastures—or perhaps far less green pastures. But they’re gone. I’m very happy they’re gone.”
Seven months after McCain’s death, Trump complained that no one thanked him after he “had to” give McCain “the kind of funeral that he wanted” in Washington, DC.
“I don’t care about this, I didn’t get ‘thank you.’ That’s OK,” Trump reportedly said during a speech in Ohio. “We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”
Three sources also told The Atlantic that Trump described former President George H.W. Bush as a “loser” after his plane was shot down during World War II. Bush became the youngest naval pilot at the time and went on to fly a total of 58 combat missions, including one where he was shot down by Japanese forces.
White House communications director Alyssa Farah denied the claims made in The Atlantic’s report and called it “offensive and patently false.”
“[Donald Trump] holds the military in the highest regard,” Farah tweeted Thursday evening. “He’s demonstrated his commitment to the force: delivering a pay raise to our troops, increasing military $$, signing vets reform & supporting military spouses.”
“I’ve watched @realDonaldTrump solemnly sign letters to the families of fallen heroes,” she added. “He’s honored their memories by doing more than any modern president to get us OUT of endless wars.”