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Atlantic report highlights Trump’s complex relationship with the military

President Trump is facing continued criticism over disparaging remarks he allegedly made about U.S. troops. A report in The Atlantic magazine, which was later confirmed by multiple other news outlets, says Trump repeatedly called fallen American servicemembers “losers” and “suckers.” In the Oval Office on Friday, Trump denied making the comments. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, first, William Brangham reports on the fallout intensifying today over an article that alleges President Trump made disparaging remarks about U.S. troops.

  • President Donald Trump:

    It's a fake story, and it's a disgrace that they're allowed to do it.

  • William Brangham:

    President Trump is firing back, after a report "The Atlantic" magazine and later confirmed by multiple news organizations, said the president several times called fallen American service members "losers and suckers."

    In the Oval Office today, the president again flatly denied ever making the comments, and instead touted military spending under his administration.

  • President Donald Trump:

    There's nobody that considers the military, and especially people that have given their lives in the military — to me, they're heroes.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    Who the heck does he think he is?

  • William Brangham:

    His Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, whose own son Beau served in Iraq, called the reported comments deplorable.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    When my son volunteered and joined the United States military, as the attorney general, and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he wasn't a sucker.

  • William Brangham:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was on a 2018 trip to Paris when the president allegedly made some of these comments, told FOX News he doesn't remember them.

  • Secretary Mike Pompeo:

    I have never heard the president use the language that assertively is said in that article.

  • William Brangham:

    But going back to his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has had a complicated relationship with the military.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Amazing people. These are amazing people.

  • William Brangham:

    He's often praised those with military experience, and has had many working with him in the White House.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Because I don't like losers.

  • William Brangham:

    But, other times, he's questioned their service, like his widely criticized comments about Senator John McCain, who was tortured and imprisoned for more than five years during the Vietnam War.

  • President Donald Trump:

    He's a war hero, because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.

  • William Brangham:

    President Trump overwhelmingly won among veterans in 2016, but, since then, his approval rating among members of the military has dropped to 38 percent in a new poll from Military Times.

    With two months until Election Day, Mr. Biden has a four-point advantage with these voters.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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