Trump explains his no-show at Arlington: 'I was extremely busy on calls'

President Trump admitted Friday he made a mistake by not attending a public event at Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to U.S. soldiers this year on Veterans Day.

“I should have done that,” Trump told “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace. “I was extremely busy on calls for the country; we did a lot of calling as you know.”

Wallace had pointed out that President Barack Obama made a point of going to Arlington every year that he was in Washington on Veterans Day, and pressed Trump, who offered other explanations.

President Trump speaks during a Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House on Friday. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

“I could have done that. As you know, I just left the day before the American Cemetery, and I probably think, and that was one where it was raining as hard as you can imagine, and I made a speech at the American Cemetery the day before and I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year,” Trump said. “But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American Cemetery in Paris, and I really probably assumed that was fine, and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state, and other things.”

People stand in line to enter the Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater for the National Veterans Day Observance on Sunday. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP)

In fact, Trump did not attend last year’s ceremony at Arlington, either. Traveling in Asia, Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place. Pence did not attend this year’s observance at Arlington, and left on his own trip to Japan later Sunday night.

The president was already facing criticism for canceling an appearance at the Aisene-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France to commemorate the end of World War I. The White House cited rain as the reason for his no-show. When other European leaders attended the ceremony despite the light rain, Trump blamed his own Secret Service detail, saying they had nixed the trip because it was unsafe to fly and the president’s motorcade would snarl traffic in Paris.

Trump did appear, the day after the World War I commemoration, at the Surenses American Cemetery in the suburbs of Paris to pay tribute to U.S. and allied soldiers who were killed in the Great War.

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