While defending himself from accusations that in private conversations he has repeatedly disparaged Americans who died in wartime, Donald Trump told at least one provable falsehood when he said on Twitter that he has never called deceased Sen. John McCain a “loser” or disparaged veterans.
In fact, Trump specifically did that at least once, publicly, and the whole thing was captured on video.
On Thursday, citing multiple sources The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported that Trump has repeatedly mocked and insulted people who died during wars, and disabled veterans. Among the accusations, the individuals say Trump: Called soldiers who died during World War I “losers” and “suckers”; told his senior staff “we’re not going to support that loser’s funeral” after McCain died, and later called him “a f—ing loser”; mocked former President George H.W. Bush for being shot down while piloting combat missions during World War II; and even mocked the son of former chief of staff John Kelly, who died in 2010 at age 29 while serving as a Marine Corps officer in Afghanistan.
The Associated Press has since said it independently confirmed everything reported by The Atlantic.
Early Thursday evening, Trump denied all of these accusations in a statement on Twitter said in part: “I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things… Also, I never called John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES. This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!”
However, in 2015, shortly after he began his successful Republican primary campaign, Trump not only called McCain a loser but also mocked the fact that he was a POW during the Vietnam war.
“I supported him for president, I raised a million dollars for him, that’s a lot of money. I supported him, he lost, he let us down, you know he lost. So I never liked him as much after that, ’cause I don’t like losers,” Trump told Republican consultant Frank Luntz about McCain at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit. After that, he made sure his Twitter followers knew what he’d called the senator at the summit by tweeting out a summary article titled, “Donald Trump: John McCain Is ‘a Loser’.”
But Trump didn’t just call McCain a loser. When Luntz pushed back at Trump, asserting that McCain was a “war hero,” Trump said: “He’s not a war hero. He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, OK?”
Watch video of Trump calling McCain a “loser” while also mocking his wartime service above.