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Trump grows military tension, says leaders only want to ‘fight wars’


  • President Donald Trump escalated tensions between him and the military, claiming its leadership “want to do nothing but fight wars” so defense contactors makers can be “happy.”
  • He made his comments on Monday as part of his denial of The Atlantic’s report that he called dead American soldiers “losers” and “suckers.”
  •  “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are,” he said Monday.
  • NBC News also reported that Trump is unhappy with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and has held talks with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about replacing him.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump escalated his current tensions with the military, claiming that its leaders “want to do nothing but fight wars” so weapon makers can be “happy” as he defended himself against reports that disparaged the American World War I dead.

Trump repeated his denial of the reports at a White House press conference on Monday, calling the claims a “hoax.”

 “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are,” he added.

He continued by targeting military leadership: “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

He said: “Some people don’t like to come home, some people like to continue to spend money. One cold-hearted globalist betrayal after another, that’s what it was.”

Trump Paris

Trump arrives for the lunch after the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I at Elysée Palace in Paris France, on November 11, 2018.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Trump was denying allegations made in a bombshell report by The Atlantic, which said that Trump canceled a 2018 visit to a Paris cemetery housing fallen American soldiers from World War I because he did not believe it was important to go. The White House publicly blamed bad weather at the time.

The Atlantic reported that Trump said the cemetery was “filled with losers,” and said on the same trip that the US Marines who lost their lives in the war were “suckers.”

The outlet also said the he had called Sen. John McCain — a Republican and a Navy veteran who spent more than five years as a prisoner in Vietnam — a “loser” after McCain’s death in 2018.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) participates in a mock swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sen. John McCain.

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Trump and the White House have repeatedly denied the story, though details of the story have been confirmed by other news outlets.

Trump also denied ever calling McCain a “loser,” though he has done so publicly and tweeted about it in 2015.

On Monday NBC News reported, citing three senior administration officials, that Trump has been unhappy with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and that the White House talked to Robert Wilkie, the veterans affairs secretary, about taking over Esper’s role.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a briefing on counternarcotics operations at U.S. Southern Command, Friday, July 10, 2020, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper in June 2020.

Associated Press

The White House declined to comment to NBC News on the record, while the Veterans Affairs Department and the Pentagon declined to comment to NBC News.

Trump and Esper have publicly clashed in the past, with Trump reportedly considering firing Esper in June after Esper publicly said that he did not agree with Trump’s plans to deploy troops to deal with people protesting against police brutality. 

Trump has also criticized Esper’s plan to cut funding to Stars and Stripes, the military’s editorially independent newspaper that has been published since the US Civil War. 

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in April 2020.

Associated Press

Wilkie, meanwhile, defended Trump against the allegations made by The Atlantic, telling CNN that he did not believe the report and that Trump calling McCain a “loser” was just “politics.”

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