“It’s the heat of a campaign. I judge a man by his actions, and the actions have been beneficial for veterans all across this country in ways that we have not seen since the end of World War II. And I would also say the same for the United States military,” Wilkie told Bash on “State of the Union.” “I was the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. I watched this President sign letters of condolences to those who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was on the frontlines then, so I’m judging the President by what he’s done as president.”
Wilkie told Bash that he “absolutely” believed McCain was a war hero, and he separately denied that he had heard Trump make disparaging comments about US service members.
“Absolutely not,” Wilkie said when asked if he had ever heard the President make such comments. “And I would be offended too if I thought it was true.”
The New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News and the Associated Press have corroborated parts of The Atlantic’s reporting.
Trump has forcefully denied the report in The Atlantic and on Thursday called it “a disgraceful situation.”
“To think that I would make statements negative to our military when nobody has done what I’ve done, with the budgets and the military budget. We’re getting pay raises for the military. It is a disgraceful situation, by a magazine that is a terrible magazine, I don’t read it,” Trump told reporters after returning from a rally in Pennsylvania.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told “Fox News Sunday” that “this President supports the military in an unbelievable way.”
“I think this President has enormous respect for the military and for the generals,” he said Sunday.
Still, Mnuchin insisted he’s been with Trump at Arlington National Cemetery and at a World War II anniversary and has only seen the President show respect toward US veterans.
This story has been updated with additional background information and context.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.