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Pressure is building on the alleged anonymous sources to identify themselves after claiming to The Atlantic that President Donald Trump savaged the late Sen. John McCain and fallen World War I soldiers.
In a report published Thursday that was written by the magazine’s Left-wing editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, the sources claim the president canceled a visit in 2018 to a World War I cemetery where American dead were buried because the trip would mess his hair up.
He also allegedly disparaged the soldiers and Marines buried there as “losers” and “suckers” — descriptions of American dead that seem wholly out of character for a president who has gone out of his way to thank, praise, and take care of the U.S. military.
The sources also claimed that Trump was angry and frustrated at having to accommodate and honor the late John McCain (R-Ariz.) following his death from brain cancer two years ago.
**Warning: Strong language
When McCain died, in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. “What the f**k are we doing that for? Guy was a f**king loser,” the president told aides.
The president has vehemently denied the report, though he admitted in a Twitter thread that he was “never a fan” of McCain.
….John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES. This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
After returning from a campaign stop in Latrobe, Pa., Trump addressed the controversy on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews. Noting that the alleged sources “made it up,” he went on to say that “probably it’s a couple of people that have been failures in my administration that I got rid of and I couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.”
The president also got some defense from Ben Domenech, co-founder of The Federalist and McCain’s son-in-law.
“I’m confident I have better sources within this White House than @JeffreyGoldberg, and I expect that upon investigation his anonymously sourced story will live up to the quality we can expect from The Atlantic under his leadership,” he wrote on Twitter.
I'm confident I have better sources within this White House than @JeffreyGoldberg, and I expect that upon investigation his anonymously sourced story will live up to the quality we can expect from The Atlantic under his leadership.
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) September 4, 2020
In a roundabout way, the president also got an assist of sorts from frequent critic Brian Stelter, CNN’s ‘media’ analyst.
In a segment with fellow network host Don Lemon following publication of the story, though both men falsely claimed that the Trump regularly denies stories that are true, Stelter nonetheless called on the sources to publicly identify themselves since the election is so close.
“That’s the thing about this — normally the denials from the president and his aides would carry some weight, but for three and a half years the White House has squandered its credibility to the point where its words are essentially worthless, and the denials mean very little,” Stelter said.
After praising Goldberg as a “respected journalist” with “sources at high levels” of government, Stelter added: “But it is also incumbent on the sources, on the people that are talking to Goldberg, on the people that are talking to other outlets — the president’s denying it explicitly, so it’s put up or shut up time.”
Other Washington journalists expressed their sincere doubts about the credibility of Goldberg’s story.
“The Venn diagram of journos who bought and peddled the Iraq WMD hoax, the Rolling Stone UVA rape hoax, the Russian collusion hoax, the Covington hoax, the Kavanaugh hoax, the Ukraine hoax, and the latest Atlantic hoax is a single circle. Take note of who’s inside it,” The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis tweeted.
And Steve Cortes, a senior adviser to the 2020 Trump campaign, retweeted pages from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent book in which even he explains that the reason the cemetery trip was canceled had everything to do with inclement weather and nothing to do with the president’s alleged disdain for American war dead.
Even John Bolton, an intense critic of Pres Trump, reveals the truth about the canceled visit to the American cemetery in France.
The Atlantic's story is gutter muckraking. https://t.co/kmKJ8MGVkx
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) September 4, 2020
As for the late senator, Trump never called him a “loser.” The reference stems from an out-of-context headline by media outlet Fits News in which the president made a comment about McCain’s losing 2008 presidential bid.
Also, McCain was a vehement critic of Trump’s candidacy, once referring to the future president’s supporters as “crazies.”
Finally, McCain played a role in advancing the legitimacy of the so-called “Steele dossier,” having had it delivered to the Obama’s FBI. The dossier — which was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign — was used by the bureau to fraudulently obtain surveillance warrants Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
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