The White House is furiously fighting back against a politically explosive report that the president called U.S. military heroes killed in battle 'losers' and 'suckers' – and turned down a trip to visit U.S. war dead in France due to the rain.
Melania Trump on Friday evening became the latest to deny the highly-damaging report, tweeting that it was untrue and brought shame on journalism.
'TheAtlantic story is not true,' she said.
Melania Trump on Friday evening denied the Atlantic's story about her husband
Melania Trump on Friday evening became the latest White House figure to deny the story
'It has become a very dangerous time when anonymous sources are believed above all else, & no one knows their motivation.
'This is not journalism - It is activism. And it is a disservice to the people of our great nation.'
Her response came as Fox News independently confirmed the Atlantic's report, with their national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, appearing on the network to say her sources had told her it was true.
The Washington Post also confirmed the Atlantic's reporting.
A former senior administration official told the paper that the president frequently made disparaging comments about veterans and soldiers missing in action, referring to them at times as 'losers.'
In one account, the president reportedly told senior advisers that he didn't understand why the U.S. government placed such value on finding soldiers missing in action because they had performed poorly and gotten caught and deserved what they got.
Jennifer Griffin, national security correspondent for Fox News, confirmed the Atlantic story
Sources told Fox News that the Atlantic's report about Trump's remarks was factually accurate
Former officials within the White House told the news station that the reporting was true
President Donald Trump earlier on Friday repeated his attack on the Atlantic magazine.
'The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance,' Trump tweeted. 'Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!' Trump continued.
Trump ripped the report as he met with the president of Serbia and the prime minister of Kosovo at the White House Friday.
'It was a terrible thing that somebody could say the kind of things – especially to me, because I've done more for the mil than almost anybody else,' Trump fumed. 'Nobody's done what I've done' for the military, Trump claimed.
Then he brought up the tell-all book by former national security advisor John Bolton – a book that accuses Trump of giving 'personal favors to dictators.'
'I hate to bring up his book, but John Bolton, no friend of mine I mean he didn't know too much about what he was doing, he didn't do a good job. But he wrote a book. He talks about this incident and he doesn't mention it,' said Trump.
'There's nobody that considers the military and especially the people that have given their lives in the military – to me they're heroes,' Trump said of Americans who die while serving the country. 'It's even hard to believe how they could do it. And I say that. The level of bravery ...' he said.
In addition to the president himself calling the story in the Atlantic fill of 'lies,' the White House communications shop has turned to an unlikely source of defense: Bolton, who Trump has ridiculed since his slicing memoir.
'He is a liar,' Trump said after Bolton released his tell-all book trashing the administration.
Following publication of the Atlantic story, the White House press shop retweeted an image of Bolton's book, 'The Room Where it Happened,' where Bolton says it was bad weather and the special contingencies of presidential travel that caused the White House to nix a planned cemetery visit by Trump in 2018.
The White House's furious pushback against a new Atlantic article that reports President Donald Trump called fallen soldiers 'losers' included quoting from the tell-all book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Trump called Bolton a 'liar' after the release of his book
President Trump attacked the Atlantic magazine and called its report 'fake'
Trump was to have visited the cemetery near Belleau Wood on the 100th anniversary, a cemetery which holds a special place for Marines.
'The press turned canceling the cemetery visit into a story that Trump was afraid of the rain and took glee in pointing out that other world leaders traveled around during the day,' Bolton wrote. 'Of course, none of them were the President of the United States, but the press didn't understand the rules for US Presidents are different from the rules for 190 other leaders who don't command the world's greatest military forces.'
Bolton wrote that Marine One's crew were saying it was 'imprudent' to fly by helicopter due to the weather, and the drive could be 90 minutes each way.
The Atlantic piece takes a much harsher view: 'Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day,' wrote author Jeffrey Goldberg.
White House deputy communications director Brian Morganstern retweeted the passage from the book, as did White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah.
Farah also called the article 'offensive & patently false.'
Another White House press official, Judd Deere, blasted out people who contradicted accounts in the article.
'Anyone else notice that there are now four individuals with first-hand knowledge who are ON THE RECORD denying The Atlantic story? This matches the publications four anonymous sources. Will The Atlantic stand by their false anonymous reporting or listen to those who were there?'
White House officials circulated Bolton's book, which contradicts key elements of the story's account
A White House official retweeted an image of internal documents showing visibility as low as 1 mile the day Trump's Marine One helicopter trip was scrubbed
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) attends the Armistice Day commemorations marking the end of World War I on November 11, 2017, near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
A senior Defense Department official with first-hand knowledge of events and a senior Marine Corps officer who was told about them confirmed the accounts to the Associated Press – 'including the cemetery incident.'
'This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!' Trump tweeted Thursday.
Trump fumed late Thursday upon his return from a speech in Pennsylvania: 'I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes.'
'There is nobody that respects them more. No animal - nobody - what animal would say such a thing?' Trump added.
The Joe Biden campaign ran with the story and blasted Trump in a Friday conference call.
'I'd take my wheelchair and titanium legs over Donald Trump's supposed bone spurs any day,' said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost her legs in a plane accident in Iraq. She was referencing Trump's deferments during Vietnam due to bone spurs.
'It's time for this man to leave office,' she added.
'His soul cannot conceive of integrity and honor,' said Gold Star father Khizr Khan, whose son Humayun Khan was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004 and whose Democratic convention speech prompted extended back-and-forth with Trump. 'His soul is that of a coward,' Khan said.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who has been released from prison, tweeted that the Atlantic article 'is accurate.'