The Atlantic has stunk up an otherwise beautiful Labor Day weekend with a uniquely ugly story. Anti-Trump editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg claims that Donald Trump snubbed a World War One American cemetery in France because ‘it’s filled with losers’, and the Doughboys buried there are ‘suckers’. Goldberg also asserts that ‘Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain’ on November 10, 2018.
President Trump categorically rejected the Atlantic’s tale. He called it a ‘total lie. It’s fake news. It’s a disgrace.’
‘I was ready to go to a ceremony,’ Trump told journalists at Joint Air Base Andrews Thursday night. ‘But the helicopter could not fly…because it was raining about as hard as I’ve ever seen. And, on top of that, it was very, very foggy.’ The Secret Service would not transport Trump by motorcade, he added, since ‘it was a very long drive’.
The Atlantic’s Goldberg wrote: ‘Neither claim was true.’
Who to believe? Goldberg or Trump?
Goldberg cites ‘four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day’ — all anonymous.
In contrast, at least 11 named members of Trump’s Paris team corroborate him. So does an email from an unidentified military aide. So do the weather data. Trump’s next-day agenda also discredits the Atlantic.
President Trump’s most compelling witness is former national security adviser John Bolton. Since getting sacked last September 10, Bolton has become a stalwart Trump critic
Nonetheless, Bolton told Fox News: ‘I didn’t hear either of those comments or anything resembling them. I was there at the point in time that morning when it was decided that he would not go. It was an entirely weather-related decision and, I thought, the proper thing to do.’
Pages 241-242 of Bolton’s 577-page anti-Trump tome, The Room Where It Happened, published June 23, torpedoes the Atlantic’s foundering ship.
‘The weather was bad, and Kelly and I spoke about whether to travel as planned to the Château-Thierry Belleau Wood monuments and nearby American Cemeteries, where many US World War One dead were buried. Marine One’s crew was saying that bad visibility could make it imprudent to chopper to the cemetery… If a motorcade were necessary, it could take between 90 and 120 minutes each way, along roads that were not exactly freeways, posing an unacceptable risk that we could not get the President out of France quickly enough in case of an emergency.
‘The press turned canceling the cemetery visit into a story that Trump was afraid of the rain and took glee in pointing out that other world leaders traveled around during the day. Of course, none of them were the President of the United States, but the press didn’t understand that rules for US Presidents are different from the rules for 190 other leaders who don’t command the world’s greatest military forces.’
Others in Trump’s Paris party echoed Bolton’s recollection.
Former counselor to the President Johnny DeStefano said: ‘I was on this trip. The Atlantic bit is not true. Period.’
‘I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather,’ former deputy White House chief of staff Zach Fuentes revealed to Breitbart Monday. John Kelly’s then-top aide added: ‘Honestly, do you think Gen. Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?’
‘These are disgusting, grotesque, reprehensible lies,’ wrote former deputy press secretary J. Hogan Gidley. ‘I was there in Paris and the President never said those things. In fact, he would never even think such vile thoughts because I know from first-hand knowledge that President Trump absolutely loves, respects, and reveres the brave men and women of the United States military.’
‘Again, this is 100 percent false,’ former personal aide to the President Jordan Karem tweeted. ‘I was next to POTUS the whole day! The President was greatly disappointed when told we couldn’t fly there. He was incredibly eager to honor our Fallen Heroes.’
‘I was with the President the morning after the scheduled visit,’ said staff Secretary Derek Lyons. ‘He was extremely disappointed that arrangements could not be made to get him to the site and that the trip had been canceled. I have worked for the President for his entire administration… I have never heard him utter a disparaging remark, of any kind, about our troops.’
Senior adviser Stephen Miller dismissed the Atlantic hit piece as a ‘despicable lie’. He told the Washington Examiner: ‘The President deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call.’
‘The Atlantic story on Donald Trump is total BS,’ said former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. ‘I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion — this never happened.’
‘I was with POTUS in France, with Sarah, and have been at his side throughout it all,’ said assistant to the President Dan Scavino. ‘Complete lies by “anonymous sources” that were “dropped” just as he begins to campaign (and surge).’
Former deputy chief of staff Dan Walsh said: ‘I can attest to the fact that there was a bad weather call in France and that the helicopters were unable to safely make the flight. Overall, the President’s support and respect for our American troops, past and present, is unquestionable.’
An email stamped 5:59 a.m. that day, from a ‘United States Marine Corps Military Aide to the President,’ whose name the White House redacted, reads: ‘Team, We are BAD WX call for today’s lift. COS Gen. Kelly, will motorcade and replace POTUS for today’s ceremony.’
As part of national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien’s traveling press corps, I was honored to accompany my friend-since-college to the beautiful and moving Aisne-Marne cemetery during his July 15 tour and wreath-laying ceremony. Sans traffic, Château-Thierry is a roughly 90-minute drive northeast of Paris, partially along two-lane, rural roads. The congested return journey took some 15 minutes longer. The NSC chief’s motorcade paled beside the armed camp (and high-profile target) in which POTUS travels. A similar Trump trip would have been, at best, an epic production.
As for Mother Nature, WeatherBELL Analytics LLC described that afternoon’s meteorological conditions in northern France.
‘During this time period, the ceilings (height of the base of the clouds) were extremely low during the midday hours (600-700 feet),’ the Manhattan-based forecasting company reported. ‘Note that ceiling heights that low can be treacherous for a helicopter when flying over unfamiliar terrain. For reference, during the crash that killed Kobe Bryant earlier this year, ceilings were reported to be around 1,100 feet nearby.’
The next day, November 11, 2018, President Trump’s public schedule placed him at French President Emmanuel Macron’s noon Armistice Day Centennial Commemoration Luncheon at Élysée Palace. Given what the Atlantic calls ‘Trump’s seeming contempt for military service’, his alleged rejection of America’s war dead as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’, and his supposed desperation to keep his hair dry, President Trump could have sped to Orly Airport at 12:55 p.m., boarded warm and cozy Air Force One, and jetted home.
Instead, Trump stayed in France two-and-a-half hours longer. He ventured to Suresnes American Cemetery and spoke in the rain for 10 minutes, sans umbrella.
‘Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior — great, great warriors they are — who gave everything for family, country, God, and freedom,’ the President said of the fallen there, from both world wars. ‘Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they held the line, and pushed onward to victory…never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones.’
Fittingly for this beach-going weekend, this flood of facts washes the Atlantic’s Trump-hate out to sea.