- President Donald Trump referred to Sen. John McCain and President George H.W. Bush as “losers” because they were shot down in battle, multiple unnamed sources told The Atlantic in a report published Thursday.
- Before their lengthy political careers, both McCain and Bush served in the US Navy as fighter pilots.
- After publicly sparring with McCain until the longtime lawmaker’s death in 2018, Trump was said to be angry that McCain was given half-staff honours.
- Sources told The Atlantic that Trump also said to his staff, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral.”
- The White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, described The Atlantic’s report – which included other inflammatory remarks Trump was said to have made about US troops – as “offensive and patently false.”
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President Donald Trump is said to have referred to the 41st US president and the 2008 Republican presidential nominee as “losers” because they were shot down in battle while serving in the military.
McCain died in 2018 after a months-long fight with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He and Trump remained political foes after McCain criticised Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
After McCain’s death, Trump was said to be angry when the late senator received half-staff flag honours, 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 McCain’s funeral, but Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, still attended. McCain’s eldest daughter, Meghan McCain, later told the late-night host Stephen Colbert that she did not know the two would be there and wished they hadn’t come.
Trump has drawn sharp backlash for his denigration during the 2016 campaign of McCain’s military service. McCain’s plane was shot down during the Vietnam War, and he was tortured in captivity 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 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.”
During an appearance at the Faith and Freedom Coalition last year, Trump appeared to imply that McCain was in hell.
“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 have gone on to greener pastures â€” 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 â€” 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 Bush as a “loser” because 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 the one when he was shot down by Japanese forces.
The White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, described the report â€” which included other inflammatory remarks Trump was said to have made about US troops â€” as “offensive and patently false.”
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 honoured their memories by doing more than any modern president to get us OUT of endless wars.”
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