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Former National Security Adviser John Bolton pointedly shot down a claim by The Atlantic last week that President Donald Trump called American World War I dead “losers” and “suckers” during a trip to France in 2018.
“According to what that article said, the president made disparaging remarks about soldiers and people buried in the cemetery in connection with the decision for him not to go to the ceremony that was planned that afternoon, and that was simply false,” Bolton — who left the administration under bad terms with the president — said.
“I don’t know who told the author that, but that was false,” Bolton said.
The story, written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, was based on four “anonymous sources” with supposed knowledge of that incident and others including comments the president supposedly made about the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
But almost immediately after it was published, several people who were with the president during his visit disputed claims regarding his alleged disparaging comments about American soldiers and Marines interned at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.
Bolton said that the president canceled a planned trip to the cemetery because of bad weather.
“The main issue was whether or not weather conditions permitted the president to go out to the cemetery,” Bolton said, adding that then-Chief of Staff John Kelly presented “logistical reasons why the trip couldn’t take place and the president assented to the recommendation that he not go.”
At that, Trump “sort of took the facts as they were,” Bolton noted further, calling the canceled trip a “very straight weather call.”
In a recent book about his time in the Trump administration, Bolton’s account of the incident was identical: The trip had been canceled due to weather.
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
That said, Bolton did offer criticism of the president.
“I can’t prove the negative that he never said those things,” Bolton told host Martha MacCallum. “The president has a habit of disparaging people. He ends up denigrating almost everybody that he comes in contact with whose last name is not Trump.
“I was simply responding to what I thought the main point of the Atlantic article that at the critical point Saturday morning when the decision was made not to go to Aisne-Marne that he made the disparaging remarks, and he did not,” he added.
Several others came to the president’s defense as well.
“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,” The Federalist co-founder Ben Domenech, who is married to McCain’s daughter Meghan, 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
The malicious lies about @realDonaldTrump from anonymous sources in the Atlantic are disgusting.
This story is an insult to journalism.
I would know, because I was there-> pic.twitter.com/pt7rDfwr8x
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) September 6, 2020
As to the story’s allegations that Trump was hostile to the notion of accommodating McCain’s funeral, the president himself pushed back on that.
….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
The refutation of the president’s alleged comments regarding American war dead casts a pall over all other claims Goldberg makes in his story. And to that point, Federalist co-founder Sean Davis called The Atlantic editor’s credibility into question.
“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,” he wrote online shortly after Goldberg’s story was published.
Other journalists, including liberal writers, have also questioned Goldberg’s integrity, citing past instances of alleged literary malpractice.
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald accused Goldberg of intentional misreporting that eventually led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq during the Bush administration.
A major reason the war in Iraq happened is because a huge majority of Americans were deceived into believing that Saddam was in league with 9/11.
Jeffrey Goldberg was the reporter most responsible for this lie. pic.twitter.com/WlKacevkdx
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 4, 2020
“A major reason the war in Iraq happened is because a huge majority of Americans were deceived into believing that Saddam was in league with 9/11. Jeffrey Goldberg was the reporter most responsible for this lie,” he wrote online.
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