President Donald Trump on Sunday again defended his support for American troops while others in his administration rallied around him after reports that Trump had disparaged fallen U.S. soldiers in Europe and declined to visit an American cemetery during a 2018 trip to France.
The Atlantic magazine reported on Thursday that Trump referred to Marines buried in an American cemetery near Paris as "losers" and declined to visit their graves in November 2018 because of concern the rain that day would mess up his hair, an account the president denied on Thursday and again on Sunday said was false.
Bloomberg reported on Sunday that Trump subsequently spent the free time selecting artwork to remove from the U.S. ambassador's residence and send back to the White House.
Representatives for the White House had no immediate comment on the Bloomberg report, which cited several people familiar with the episode. Reuters could not confirm the report.
Trump, a Republican who is seeking re-election in part on his vocal support of the U.S. military, blasted Democrats and the news media on Sunday, tweeting: "They will say anything, like their recent lies about me and the Military, and hope that it sticks... But #MAGA gets it!," referring to his supporters who back his "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, who is challenging Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election, called Trump's comments about the fallen soldiers, "a disgrace" if true.
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie on Sunday echoed remarks last week by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper telling CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump respected the troops and that he had never heard the president disparage U.S. military members or veterans.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also backed Trump's support of the military.
"The president has always been 100% supportive of the military," Mnuchin told reporters at the White House.
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