Published: Wed, November 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump ditched cemetery visit to avoid causing Paris traffic jams, says Sanders

Trump ditched cemetery visit to avoid causing Paris traffic jams, says Sanders

Trump was due to visit the cemetery yesterday, but the White House cancelled the trip because of rain which grounded the presidential helicopter that was to fly him to Belleau - about a two-hour drive east of Paris.

The American flag flies at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery dedicated to the USA soldiers killed in the Belleau Wood battle during World War One at Belleau, France, November 10, 2018.

Instead, Trump spent much of the day following a meeting and lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the US ambassador's residence, where he was staying during events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

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A handful of senior administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, went in the president's place.

Trump also tweeted that he visited another American cemetery and gave a speech amid pouring rain the next day, but that little was reported about it.

Winston Churchill's grandson last night blasted Donald Trump for cancelling the trip. Following a wave of criticism, the White House altered its reasoning on Monday and said the only way Trump could have made it to the cemetery was by auto, which would have interfered with the roads.

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Also known as the Belleau Wood cemetery, the site is home to the graves of 2,289 American war dead and 1,060 names of the missing.

The U.S. Secret Service typically requires a good level of visibility to transport the president by helicopter, yet the president's detractors and some in his own party seized on the cancellation to accuse Trump of lacking respect for fallen soldiers and the military. He called it "fake news".

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse was implausible. They rallied under a banner that said "Trump War" and slammed policies such as USA help for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. "Right now the burden sharing has been largely on the United States".

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The last minute cancellation prompted widespread criticism on social media and from some officials in Britain and the United States that Trump had "dishonored" US servicemen. "He's only got one umbrella, and he couldn't figure out how to bring it on the plane", Colbert said as the now-infamous clip of President Trump leaving an open umbrella outside of Air Force One played.

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