A new book claims that former President Donald Trump verbalized his disdain for wounded veterans early on in his presidency.
The authors of “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” The New York Times’ Peter Baker and The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser, detailed an exchange Trump had with his then-chief of staff John Kelly in which the former president expressed interest in copying the grandeur he witnessed during a French military parade. He just wanted to make one key tweak, according to an excerpt published by The New Yorker.
Former President Donald Trump salutes during a Change of Command ceremony in 2018. (Photo: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
In 2017, Trump flew to Paris for Bastille Day celebrations held by Emmanuel Macron, the then-new French president. The celebration was also meant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American entrance into the WWI. Due to this, Macron apparently wanted to appeal to Trump’s love for opulence with a grandiose military display, which included vintage tanks rolling down the Champs-Élysées as fighter jets flew overhead.
When Trump returned to Washington, D.C., he asked his generals to throw him an even showier military parade for July 4. Part of his vision for improving on France’s spectacular martial display was apparently by barring veterans who were wounded or used a wheelchair from his parade.
“Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade,” Trump allegedly told Kelly, noting with “distaste” that visibly injured veterans were featured in the French parade. “This doesn’t look good for me.”
Kelly — a retired Marine Corps general — was apparently flabbergasted by the idea.
“Those are the heroes,” Kelly told Trump, according to the book. “In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are — and they are buried over in Arlington.”
The book noted that Kelly did not mention that his son, Robert — a lieutenant killed in action in Afghanistan — was among those buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
“I don’t want them,” Trump apparently repeated. “It doesn’t look good for me.”
Trump receives a bomber jacket from the U.S. Pacific Air Forces in 2017. (Photo: AFP Contributor via Getty Images)
While on the trip, he turned down a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery ― a WWI cemetery in Belleau, France, near the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood. His reason was reportedly because the cemetery was “filled with losers.” In another conversation during the trip, he “referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed,” The Atlantic reported.
Trump speaks to Air Force personnel during an event in 2017 at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)
Former White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah told HuffPost at the time that the Atlantic’s report was “false.”
“President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms and supporting military spouses,” Farah said.
Trump also famously criticized the late Sen. John McCain, who was held for over five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said in 2015 of McCain. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.