Biden demands Trump apologise for reported insult to US troops
US President under fire over accusations he called fallen soldiers 'suckers' and 'losers'
With less than two months until election day, Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Friday demanded an apology from Donald Trump following reports that the US President insulted American troops killed in battle.
“If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologise,” Mr Biden said, referring to a report in The Atlantic on Thursday that cites four sources saying Mr Trump called US troops and service members killed in World War II and Vietnam “suckers” and “losers”.
An emotional Mr Biden brought up his late son Beau who served in Iraq and died of cancer in 2015. “When my son volunteered and joined the United States military, and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he was not a sucker!” he said.
Mr Biden then asked: “Who the heck does he [Trump] think he is?”
“If what is written in The Atlantic is true, it is disgusting. It affirms…that Donald Trump is not fit to be the commander in chief,” he added.
Mr Trump denied the report and members of his cabinet and aides came to his defence.
The president called the report a “fake story” and said his former chief of staff John Kelly “could have been" a source on The Atlantic.
He criticised the retired Marine Corps general, saying he “got eaten up in this world, he was unable to function”.
“He was unable to handle the pressure of this job,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Kelly resigned his position in January 2019.
White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said: “This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. This has no basis in fact.”
The Associated Press, Fox News, the Washington Post and The New York Times confirmed some of the revelations in The Atlantic including that Mr Trump had called dead marines “losers” and disparaged former Senator and Vietnam war veteran John McCain.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Mr Trump’s defence on Friday.
"I've never heard the president use the language that assertively is said in that article about him calling the military 'suckers' and ‘losers’”, Mr Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper praised Mr Trump’s record with the military but stopped short of issuing a denial.
“President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families. That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces,” Mr Esper said in a statement.
The allegations compound Mr Trump’s problems with military voters, who historically favor Republican nominees but are according to a latest poll favoring Mr Biden. A poll published by the Military Times on Monday showed Mr Biden with a 4 per cent lead over the US President among military voters.
Earlier on Friday the Biden campaign released the names of more than 190 former and current law enforcement officials who are backing the candidate.
The latest accusations capped an unsteady week for the Trump campaign having to explain the US President's comment urging supporters to vote twice which is illegal and erasing a small bounce in the polls from the convention last week.
Updated: September 5, 2020 03:13 AM