President Donald Trump told Fox News he should’ve gone to Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, but said he was “extremely busy” at the time.
In an interview set to air on Sunday, Fox host Chris Wallace asked Trump why he didn’t go to the famed cemetery on Veterans Day, noting former President Barack Obama “went every year he was here in DC.”
“I should have done that, I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling as you know,” Trump said, according to a transcript.
Wallace challenged him, emphasizing the importance of the day.
“But this is Veteran’s Day,” he said to Trump.
The president suggested he thought it was OK for him to skip a visit to Arlington this year because he’d just marked the centennial of the end of World War I in France.
“I could have done that. As you know, I just left the day before the American Cemetery and I probably think, and that was one where it was raining as hard as you can imagine and I made a speech at the American Cemetery the day before. And I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year,” Trump said.
The president added: “But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American Cemetery in Paris. And I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state — doing other things.”
Trump has often come under fire for talking tough about the military, but not showing it the same level of respect as past presidents. During his 2016 campaign, for example, he was decried by people on both sides of the aisle for attacking a Gold Star family. More recently, he was bashed for skipping a visit to a World War I memorial in France because it was raining.
The president has also faced ongoing criticism for not yet visiting US troops stationed in a war zone, which is something his two most recent predecessors did early on in their tenures.
In an interview with The Associated Press in October, Trump employed a similar excuse regarding visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, claiming he’s “been very busy.”
“I will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary,” Trump said at the time. “I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here. … I’m doing a lot of things. But it’s something I’d do. And do gladly.”
“Nobody has been better at the military,” Trump added. “I have done more for the military than any president in many, many years.”