WASHINGTON — A furious Joe Biden demanded Friday that President Donald Trump “humbly apologize” to the families of fallen U.S. service members following reports that Trump called them “losers” and “suckers.”
Biden, the Democratic nominee, invoked the military history of his own son — Beau Biden, who died of cancer in 2015 — as he denounced the president, who has denied making the reported comments.
“When my son was an assistant U.S. attorney and he volunteered to go to Kosovo while the war was going on as a civilian, he wasn’t a sucker,” Biden said. “When my son volunteered and joined the United States military as the attorney general and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he wasn’t a sucker,” Biden said.
“The servicemen and women he served with, particularly those who did not come home, were not losers. If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every Gold Star mother and father and every Blue Star family that he’s denigrated and insulted,” Biden added.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with his son U.S. Army Capt. Beau Biden (L) at Camp Victory on July 4, 2009 near Baghdad, Iraq. Bidden’s first visit to Iraq as the Vice President comes days after U.S. forces pulled out from Iraq’s cities.
Khalid Mohammed | Getty Images
Biden’s remarks came a day after The Atlantic reported that Trump declined to visit an American cemetery near Paris in 2018 and referred to U.S. Marines buried there as “losers” and “suckers.”
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump told aides after scrapping the visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, according to The Atlantic. The magazine did not identify the aides. The report said Trump later referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives in the Battle of Belleau Wood in France as “suckers” for getting killed.
At the time, Trump publicly blamed his decision to scrap the visit on bad weather that scuttled his helicopter flight. He never explained why he didn’t take a car to the site.
The 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood dragged on for 20 days and ended with U.S. Marines successfully clearing out German camps. The Allied victory became an enduring symbol in U.S. Marine Corps history.
“I’ve just never been as disappointed in my whole career,” Biden later said in the remarks. “It is a disgrace.”
Trump had used the same word to describe the article itself. “To think that I would make statements negative to our military and fallen heroes when nobody has done what I’ve done,” for the U.S. armed forces, Trump told reporters Thursday night. “It’s a total lie … It’s a disgrace.”
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to CNBC that, “The bogus attacks are the same as we heard in 2018 immediately following the trip to Paris and they are just as false now. “Every aspect of this charade should be dismissed out of hand,” Murtaugh said in the statement, which did not directly address Biden’s remarks.
Members of the Trump administration also denied that the president spoke disparagingly about fallen U.S. military personnel buried at the cemetery.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that he has “never heard the president use the language that is certainly said in that article about him calling military suckers and losers.”
“Indeed, just the contrary, he has always had the deepest respect. I’m a veteran, too. I care deeply about these young men and women, and I have watched the president honor them and every situation that I’ve been in with him as well,” Pompeo said.
In a statement Friday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Trump “has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families,” adding, “That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces.”
Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC on Friday that he was not on the particular trip referenced in The Atlantic article but, “it never happened.”
“I talked to the president that day, I know how disappointed the president was that there was a bad weather call. I’ve never been with anyone who cares more deeply about the men and women of our armed forces or respects them and their families than President Donald Trump,” Pence said.