Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie on Sunday defended President Trump amid criticism stemming from reports that he has made disparaging remarks about U.S. service members in the past.
In an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Wilkie didn't argue the reported comments weren't insulting — in fact, he said he would be offended by them. Instead, he dismissed the idea that Trump ever said them in the first place, implying that he didn't trust the anonymous sources that multiple outlets, including Fox News, have used to confirm parts of the story.
Wilkie clearly didn't want to talk about the issue, but Bash pushed him on the subject, noting that Trump has a history of insulting veterans, namely the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who Wilkie said he has great respect for and deems responsible for the advancement of his career. Still, the secretary continued to play things down the middle. He said Trump's comments about McCain were made in the heat of his last presidential campaign, and he made the case that, at the end of the day, Trump's actions toward veterans outweigh his rhetoric.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie says he does not believe Pres. Trump made disparaging remarks about US service members and veterans, and has never heard the President make such remarks.
"I would be offended too, if I thought it was true," he told CNN's Dana Bash. pic.twitter.com/SXy6Kts1zj
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) September 6, 2020
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