As POLITICO reports, President Trump is desperately trying to minimize the damage from a blockbuster story in “The Atlantic” on Thursday (comments that have been independently verified by The Washington Post):
President Donald Trump and his aides scrambled Friday to contain the fallout from reports that he made denigrating remarks about U.S. service members and America’s war dead, as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went on the offensive against a newly embattled White House.
Addressing reporters in the Oval Office, Trump again attacked The Atlantic for its account of him allegedly calling fallen Marines “losers” and “suckers,” and sought to defuse the escalating controversy…
…Trump’s latest repudiation of The Atlantic’s report came hours after top Biden surrogates denounced the president in a press call — seizing upon a potential inflection point in a general election campaign that in recent days has left the Democratic nominee emphasizing his opposition to violence at protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
On Friday, however, it was Trump who found himself playing defense, having to explain his support for the military less than two months from an election in which he will rely on a political base of voters made up of a disproportionately high percentage of veterans.
“And while the service of our fallen will remain the last full measure of their devotion, the comments of this president are the last full measure of his disgrace. It’s time for all Americans of conscience to repudiate this man.”
— Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN, Trump’s claims that he didn’t say disparaging things about the military are tough to maintain given how often he has indisputably disparaged service members in the past:
Had this report come out about, say George W. Bush or Barack Obama, and they had denied it forcefully — as Trump has — it would be a near-certainty that most people (and the media) would accept that the story was just flat wrong. Because there was no indication in any of their past behavior that would indicate they might ever utter such sentiments about the military.
That’s simply not the case with Trump. And that fact complicates his defense of himself against The Atlantic in a major way.
Trump is scheduled to hold a press conference at 5:00 pm (EST) where he will presumably discuss these allegations at greater length. Trump was already bleeding support among military members, as The Military Times reported earlier this week.