Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images; Samir Hussein/WireImage Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Donald Trump
On Friday, the former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot responded to a recent report from The Atlantic, which claimed the president called U.S. soldiers "losers" and "suckers" during a 2018 trip to Paris when he canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery — which Trump has since denied.
The report also touched on Trump's repeated criticisms of the late Sen. John McCain, which has included calling the senator “not a hero” and "horrible" as recently as last year.
“I am a veteran. I volunteered for military service during wartime. So did my father. His generation saved the world from fascism. In our travels, my wife Lorrie and I have always made it a point to visit military bases, hospitals and cemeteries, to meet and honor those who serve and have served our nation,” the retired pilot wrote on Twitter.
“I have long known that serving a cause greater than oneself is the highest calling, whether in the military or in civilian life. And I have always tried to be a voice of reason and to speak in a measured way,” he continued. “But this situation calls for a much more direct approach. It is time to call out egregious behavior for what it is.”
Sharing the ways in which he felt Trump “has repeatedly and consistently shown himself to be completely unfit” for the presidency, Sullenberger urged his followers to vote Trump out of office in November.
“For the first time in American history, a president has repeatedly shown utter and vulgar contempt and disrespect for those who have served and died serving our country,” he wrote. “He took an oath of office that is similar to the one that each person takes who enters the U.S. Military. But he has completely failed to uphold his oath. Now we know why.”
“He has admitted that he cannot comprehend the concept of service above self. He cannot understand selflessness because he is selfish,” the pilot continued. “We owe it not only to those who have served and sacrificed for our nation, but to ourselves and to succeeding generations to vote him out. “
8/9 He cannot understand selflessness because he is selfish. He cannot conceive of courage because he is a coward. He cannot feel duty because he is disloyal.— Sully Sullenberger (@Captsully) September 4, 2020
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Trump denied the story, calling it a "disgrace” — and also said that while he disagreed with McCain, he approved his funeral “without hesitation and without complaint.”
On Twitter, the president also said he "never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES."
Former Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, has also urged Republican voters to take a stand and not give Trump their votes.
“Look, if you’re watching this at home, here’s how willing Donald Trump is to insult your intelligence. Today he denied that he ever called John McCain a loser,” he said during a recent interview with Fox News. “Grab your phone, go on Google, you can see video of him doing it, you can see a Tweet of him doing it. I think it’s pretty easy to figure out who to believe.”
"If you're Republican and you've always voted Republican and it's hard for you to join the many Republicans who are walking away from this president, think about this,” he continued. “Years later we're going to look back on this moment and see that you could either be a John McCain Republican or a Donald Trump Republican. But you've got to choose. Think about what you'd rather be.”