BI­DEN SLAMS TRUMP OVER AL­LEGED COM­MENTS MOCK­ING U.S. WAR DEAD

Pres­i­dent de­nies report that he called fallen WWI sol­diers ‘losers,’ ‘suck­ers’

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY ZEKE MILLER AND ALEXAN­DRA JAFFE

WASH­ING­TON — Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den de­clared Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump “un­fit” for the pres­i­dency on Fri­day, de­liv­er­ing an im­pas­sioned re­ac­tion to a report that Trump — who never served in uni­form — al­legedly mocked Amer­i­can war dead.

The pres­i­dent and his al­lies have dis­missed the report in The At­lantic as false.

The al­le­ga­tions, sourced anony­mously, de­scribe mul­ti­ple of­fen­sive com­ments by the pres­i­dent to­ward fallen and cap­tured U.S. ser­vice mem­bers, in­clud­ing call­ing World War I dead at an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary ceme­tery in France “losers” and “suck­ers” in 2018.

The re­ported com­ments, many of which were con­firmed in­de­pen­dently by The As­so­ci­ated Press, are shin­ing a fresh light on Trump’s pre­vi­ous pub­lic dis­par­age­ment of Amer­i­can troops and mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. That opens a new political vul­ner­a­bil­ity for the pres­i­dent less than two months from Elec­tion Day.

Voice cracking, Bi­den told re­porters that “you know in your gut” Trump’s com­ments, if true, are “de­plorable.”

“I’ve just never been as dis­ap­pointed, in my whole ca­reer, with a leader that I’ve worked with, pres­i­dent or oth­er­wise,” Bi­den added. “If the ar­ti­cle is true — and it ap­pears to be, based on other things he’s said — it is ab­so­lutely damn­ing. It is a dis­grace.”

He added that ‘‘the pres­i­dent should humbly apol­o­gize to ev­ery Gold Star mother and fa­ther, to ev­ery Blue Star fam­ily that he’s den­i­grated. … Who the heck does he think he is?”

Trump, in the Oval Of­fice, said no apol­ogy was nec­es­sary, be­cause it was a “fake story.”

Trump was al­leged to have made the com­ments in Novem­ber 2018, as he was set to visit the Aisne-Marne Amer­i­can Ceme­tery dur­ing a trip to France. The White House said the visit was scrubbed be­cause foggy weather made the he­li­copter trip from Paris too risky and a 90-minute drive was deemed in­fea­si­ble.

Speak­ing Fri­day in the Oval Of­fice, Trump de­nied ever ut­ter­ing such com­ments: “It was a ter­ri­ble thing that some­body could say the kind of things — and espe­cially to me ’cause I’ve done more for the mil­i­tary than al­most any­one any­body else.”

Later, in a press brief­ing, Trump sug­gested the source of the story was his for­mer chief of staff, re­tired Marine Gen. John Kelly. “It could have been a guy like John Kelly,” Trump told re­porters, say­ing his for­mer top aide “was un­able to han­dle the pres­sure of this job.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks Fri­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the White House.

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