White House defends Trump's canceled trip to WWI memorial, says 'Marine One was unable to fly'
Trump was scheduled to visit the Belleau Wood battlefield and monument Saturday afternoon, however, he decided to give the event a miss
The White House attempted to defend President Donald Trump's canceled visit to a war memorial in France amid a light drizzle after social media users heavily criticized him for the move. The White House, late Sunday, said the visit was canceled because the weather was too bad for Trump to fly in Marine One and a motorcade would have created traffic, according to reports.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, on the flight back to the United States, told reporters: "Yesterday, because of near-zero visibility, Marine One was unable to fly, as had been planned. A car ride of two and a half hours, each way, would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the President’s motorcade, on short notice." Trump was scheduled to visit the Belleau Wood battlefield and monument Saturday afternoon.
"President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people. He was honored to be able to attend today’s event at the Suresnes American Cemetery and was deeply moved by the sacrifices of so many for the cause of freedom," Sanders said of the president.
The Republican president, before leaving France, made remarks on Sunday at Suresnes to lawmakers and veterans in the rain, without the cover of an umbrella. The grandson of Winston Churchill, a former national security adviser to Barack Obama, Nicholas Soames, had criticized the president for opting out of his previously planned trip with the first lady to Belleau Wood to honor American marines who fought in WWI.
"They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen," Soames wrote on Twitter. The British MP added Trump is "not fit to represent his great country."
Nicolas Burns, an American diplomat who served both Republican and Democratic presidents, called Trump's choice to not attend the ceremony "astonishing." The cemetery event, however, was attended by the White House chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joe Dunford; and several staff members.