Biden To Visit WWI Cemetery Five Years After Trump Refused To Honor ‘Suckers’ And ‘Losers’

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk in the Normandy American Cemetery following a ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Normandy.
via Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Sunday is set to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, the burial place for 1,800 U.S. Marines, whom Donald Trump famously called “suckers” and “losers” and had refused to honor with a visit in 2018 because it had been raining.

Trump, president at the time, had been scheduled to visit the cemetery about 60 miles from Paris but canceled because of the rain. He told his then-chief of staff John Kelly: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” Later on the same trip, he called servicemembers who died for their country “suckers.”

Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son, also a Marine, died in Afghanistan, went to the cemetery in Trump’s place. Photos from the visit show no rain falling as he walked amid the gravestones.

It’s unclear whether Biden will mention Trump’s failure to pay his respects at the cemetery, which largely holds the remains of Marines and Army soldiers killed in the key World War I Battle of Belleau Wood, during Biden’s own visit there Sunday. The president has been in France since Wednesday for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion in Normandy that brought on the collapse of Nazi Germany.

Still, Biden has been using Trump’s “suckers” and “losers” comments against the coup-attempting former president now for months in campaign appearances, arguing that a person who believes such a thing has no business being commander-in-chief.

On Jan. 5, in remarks marking the third anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, Biden said of Trump’s insults: “How dare he? Who in God’s name does he think he is?”

“They asked him to go visit American gravesites. He said ‘no.’ He wouldn’t do it. Because they were all ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’” Biden said four months later, in a speech in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I’m not making that up.”

And at a fundraiser in Connecticut last week: “He said they’re ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ ‘Losers’ and ‘suckers.’ Who in the hell does he think he is? This guy does not deserve to be president, whether or not I was running.”

Trump campaign officials did not respond to HuffPost queries about Biden’s planned visit.

Trump, for his part, appears to have clearly understood from the outset how damaging his disrespect for American service members could be for him.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly visits the Aisne Marne American Cemetery near the Belleau Wood battleground, in Belleau, France, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly visits the Aisne Marne American Cemetery near the Belleau Wood battleground, in Belleau, France, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.
Francois Mori via AP

Two days after refusing to visit Aisne-Marne, Trump was posting on social media that he wanted to go but just couldn’t.

“By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown,” he first wrote on Nov. 12, 2018, repeating the false story that his press staff had been putting out.

In fact, the Marine 1 helicopter, a Sikorsky VH-3D, can fly in precipitation, and on multiple occasions carried Trump through light rain and drizzle from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland back to the White House. Further, Secret Service advance teams always make contingency travel plans for bad weather.

During the 2018 Armistice Day events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, both French President Emmanuel Macron and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Compiègne — just as far from Paris as Aisne-Marne — for a ceremony there that same afternoon while Trump remained indoors at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris, tweeting.

Following critical news coverage of the canceled Aisne-Marne trip, though, Trump visited the American military cemetery in Suresnes, on the outskirts of Paris, just before leaving France to head back to Washington, D.C.

And two years later, when the Atlantic published its account of the true reason for skipping Aisne-Marne — including Trump’s “suckers” and “losers” comments, descriptions of which it attributed to unnamed sources — Trump emerged from Air Force 1 after a campaign trip and raged about it to traveling reporters for seven minutes, claiming the article was a complete fabrication.

“If they really exist, if people really exist that would have said that, they’re low-lifes and they’re liars. And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more,” Trump said on the Andrews tarmac.

Kelly last year publicly stated that the Trump quotes were accurate.

Trump late last month became the first former president to become a convicted felon after a New York state jury found him guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to hide a hush money payment to a porn actor, which was meant to keep her story from hurting his 2016 presidential campaign.

Separately, he faces both a federal and Georgia state indictment for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his followers – actions that, had they succeeded, could have effectively ended American democracy.

He also faces a second federal indictment for refusing to turn over secret documents he took with him to his South Florida country club upon leaving the White House.

Notwithstanding the criminal conviction and the outstanding felony charges against him, Trump is set to be nominated as the Republican presidential nominee next month in Milwaukee.