Washington — Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and close ally of President Trump, defended the president from claims he made disparaging remarks about American troops killed in battle, saying he doesn't believe the anonymously sourced allegations and urging those behind them to reveal themselves.
In an interview with CBSN on Wednesday, Graham questioned the timing of the bombshell article published by The Atlantic last week, which said Mr. Trump called American troops killed overseas "losers" and "suckers."
"This came out two months before an election," Graham told CBSN. "I've been critical of the president at times. But I want him to be successful. I think he's done a good job as commander-in-chief. And I want the anonymous person to come forward, because I don't buy this. I don't buy that the president has disparaged war dead. I just don't believe that."
Graham recalled speaking with Mr. Trump during his November 2018 visit to France, during which a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery was canceled because of bad weather. The South Carolina senator said Mr. Trump said he also couldn't go to the cemetery by motorcade because driving would lead to chaos, but planned to visit another site the next day.
Four sources told The Atlantic, however, that Mr. Trump questioned why he should go to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, as "it's filled with losers." The president also reportedly said Marines killed in the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I were "suckers."
But Graham said Mr. Trump "has been attacked unlike anybody that I can remember in the office."
The president has vehemently denied the report from The Atlantic, telling reporters last week he "would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes."
"There is nobody that respects them more. So, I just think it's a horrible, horrible thing," he said after a rally in Pennsylvania.
Numerous White House officials who traveled with Mr. Trump to France also denied he made the derogatory remarks about American service members.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attacked Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote the article in The Atlantic, calling him a "liberal activist" who "can't be trusted."