If real, President Donald 's comments about troops 'despicable': former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel blasted President Donald Sunday for comments he reportedly made about members of the U.S. military -- calling them "losers" and "suckers" and questioning their motivation for pursuing a service career, according to an explosive report published by The Atlantic.

"If they're real, it's beneath the dignity of any commander-in-chief. Truly, they're despicable," Hagel said of the purported remarks in an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

On Thursday, The Atlantic published the story which described the alleged disparagements and 's private views on the military, resulting in swift and vocal backlash from the president's critics. and numerous members of his staff present for some of the events referenced in the article have denied the report and labeled it a "hoax."

ABC News has not independently confirmed The Atlantic report, which cites four unnamed sources with direct knowledge in making the claims.

MORE: denies report claiming he made disparaging remarks about fallen service members

Hagel, a Republican who also represented Nebraska for two terms in the Senate, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in March, after backing neither or Democratic nominee in 2016.

"I don't know of a more experienced, better person, a more decent person in politics," Hagel said in a CNN interview announcing his support. "He's smart, he understands, he listens. There is no perfect candidate. But I think Joe Biden, for this time in our country, with the challenges that we have, I think he's the right person."

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The former secretary was later part of a group of 89 former defense officials who signed on to a Washington Post op-ed in June, criticizing for promising to send active-duty members of the U.S. military to "dominate" protesters in U.S. cities.

"We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the U.S. military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans," the op-ed states, going on to advise that using the military to quell further protests, as the president repeatedly recommends, would be "unwise."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

If real, President Donald 's comments about troops 'despicable': former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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