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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday night strongly denied an explosive report that he had belittled Americans killed in the nation’s wars as “losers.”

“It’s a total lie. Its fake news,” Trump said of an article in the Atlantic published earlier Thursday.

According to the article, Trump, on a trip to France in November 2018, skipped a planned visit to the graves of American Marines killed defending Paris in World War I because he didn’t think their sacrifice had any significance, and complained: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.”

The Atlantic, citing several unnamed sources, said that Trump also referred to the U.S. Marines buried in the French cemetery as “suckers” and said he didn’t want to get his hair mussed.

At the time, Trump tweeted that the cemetery had been called off because rain had grounded his helicopter and the Secret Service would not let him go by car.

The account in the Atlantic also contained allegations that Trump referred to the late Republican Sen. John McCain, a longtime prisoner of war in Vietnam, as a “loser.”

A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to the Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.

Trump, speaking to reporters after a campaign trip to Pennsylvania, said, “I would be willing to swear on anything” that the article is untrue.

Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the November election, said in a statement on Thursday night that “if the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true, then they are yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the president of the United States.”

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©2020 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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