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Trump Labors to Defend Abandoning 2018 French Cemetery Visit

Once he had finished pressuring Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason to remove his mask while asking a question, Donald Trump launched into an approximately five-minute riff Monday afternoon on why he just couldn’t make it to the Aisne-Marne cemetery in November 2018 to honor fallen U.S. service members.

Trump repeated his claim that rain “unlike anything I’ve ever seen before” grounded the Marine One helicopters. Problem is: Trump’s description of the weather doesn’t jive with meteorological data, as is evident in French weather records that describe conditions as “light rain, broken clouds” that day.

Trump also declared he would have “ridden in the car two hours, three hours, four hours – whatever it took” to participate in the ceremony. But, he said, French authorities pleaded with him not to disrupt Paris traffic by taking a motorcade to the World War I commemoration.

That might make sense, except that French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other dignitaries actually did make the roughly 50-mile, 90-minute trip to the cemetery. So, too, did then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford and several members of the White House staff to represent the United States. Trump stayed behind at his Paris hotel.

(Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

And then there’s this lie that Trump told about his aborted visit to the cemetery: he claims that he was so distraught that he couldn’t make the trek that he “called home” to wife Melania to tell her how badly he felt about not going to the ceremony. The fact is that Melania was there in Paris with her husband. As CNN reported:

“A readout from the first lady’s office at the time said that “Due to inclement weather, the First Lady and President were unable to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau, France. That evening, Trump and Melania went to a dinner together hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.”


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