No, John Kelly Did NOT Corroborate The Atlantic’s 2020 Hit Piece on Trump

News & Politics

It was hardly a surprise that Joe Biden told many lies during the presidential debate on Thursday evening. One lie in particular that I knew was coming is the lie that Biden has been leaning on for four years now: the anonymous claim reported by The Atlantic in September 2020 that Trump didn’t want to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because the troops there who died in battle were “losers” and “suckers.”


The article was quickly debunked after it was first published, and Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, even admitted the story may have been wrong and that subsequent reports that the trip to the cemetery was canceled due to weather were likely true. In fact, weather reports confirmed that Trump’s visit to the cemetery was, indeed, canceled due to weather.

But, just because a story is debunked for years doesn’t mean Joe Biden won’t keep repeating it, and he, of course, did so during the debate. 

“I was recently in – in – in France for D-Day, and I spoke to all – about those heroes that died. I went to the World War II cemetery – World War I cemetery he refused to go to. He was standing with his four-star general, and he told him – he said, I don’t want to go in there because they’re a bunch of losers and suckers,” Biden claimed. “My son was not a loser. He was not a sucker. You’re the sucker. You’re the loser.”

Trump responded by pointing out that the quote was made up. In fact, over twenty witnesses with President Trump on that trip to Paris went on the record to dispute the story, including John Bolton, who is no fan of Trump.

But Biden kept pushing the fake story.

“You had a four-star general stand at your side, who was on your staff, who said you said it, period,” Biden claimed.

Biden is referring to retired four-star general John Kelly, who first served as Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary, before becoming Trump’s chief of staff. The big problem with Biden’s claim is that Kelly never corroborated any of the claims made in The Atlantic’s article. In fact, despite bipartisan calls for anonymous sources to come forward, no one has publicly confirmed the accusations against Trump.


Here’s precisely how CNN’s Tapper reported Kelly’s alleged “corroboration”:

“What can I add that has not already been said?” Kelly said, when asked if he wanted to weigh in on his former boss in light of recent comments made by other former Trump officials. “A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”

But there’s more proof that Kelly didn’t confirm the story. Remember, The Atlantic’s hit piece also claimed Trump asked John Kelly at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2017, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” 

Kelly served in the Trump administration from  January 20, 2017, to January 2, 2019. Does anyone believe that Kelly, who lost a son in Afghanistan, would have continued to serve if he had witnessed Trump making such statements in 2017 and 2018? 

The obvious answer is that he wouldn’t. In fact, John Bolton — again, no fan of Trump — even said John Kelly was the one who recommended Trump not go.


“I didn’t hear either of those comments or anything even resembling them. I was there at the point in time that morning when it was decided that he would not go to Aisne-Marne cemetery,” Bolton told Fox News in September 2020. “He decided not to do it because of John Kelly’s recommendation. It was entirely a weather-related decision, and I thought the proper thing to do.”

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