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President Donald Trump’s alleged remarks disparaging soldiers who died in combat are “despicable” if accurate and will further damage him politically among service members and their families, his former National Security Adviser John Bolton said.
“These comments are despicable. If he made them, they are despicable,” Bolton said in a Bloomberg Radio interview on Friday.
The Atlantic reported Thursday that in November 2018, Trump belittled American Marines killed defending Paris in the closing days of World War I after a planned trip to a U.S. cemetery outside the city was canceled.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump said, according to the magazine, which cited four sources with firsthand knowledge of the remarks that it didn’t identify. The Associated Press said it also confirmed some of the Atlantic’s account.
Trump angrily denied the report Thursday after it was published.
But Bolton, who published a book earlier this year that was heavily critical of his former boss, said the alleged remarks sounded accurate.
“I have not heard anybody say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t sound like the Donald Trump I know,’” Bolton said in the interview. Bolton said the remarks may have stemmed from Trump’s skepticism of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He was prone to say from time to time: ‘What did they get out of it? What was the worth of the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan?’” Bolton said. “That is a kind of insensitivity that Trump does have, there’s no doubt about it.”
Bolton was on the 2018 trip to Paris with Trump but said he didn’t hear the president disparage the dead Marines himself.
“I didn’t hear him say those things,” he said, adding later he probably would have included the remarks in his book if he had. “Now, did he say those things to other people later in the day? It’s certainly possible.”
Asked whether Trump has high regard for the military, Bolton said, “I don’t think he really holds anybody in high regard except his family.”
Bolton said the Atlantic’s sources should publicly identify themselves and recount Trump’s remarks on the record, as he did in his book. He said Trump’s support among military service members is lower than it should be for a Republican, a problem for his re-election effort.
“The military typically could be expected to support the Republican candidate very heavily, but I think there are many, many in the military who are not going to do that,” he said.
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