It matters a great deal whether the president of the United States — any president of the United States — would cancel a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because of nothing more than vanity and indifference toward America’s war dead. It would be not only a statement about who the president is personally, but it would seem to have significant implications on how the United States would conduct itself in matters of war.
But that is precisely what the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg asserted in his recent article:
When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true. Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day.
The article is evocative, and every American is right to be disgusted by this outrageous “revelation.” But the article provides no named sources. Some who were there have disputed the claims on the record. Add one more to the list.
Randolph “Tex” Alles, who was serving as director of the United States Secret Service at the time of the Paris trip, informed me that the trip to the Aisne-Marne cemetery “was definitely canceled due to weather for HMX-1. Driving was not a possibility due to Paris traffic. I was in Paris on the POTUS trip when it happened and consulted with the head of the Presidential Protective Division.”
This is not the first time the retired general and former head of the U.S. Secret Service corrected media reports. After serving in this position for two years, media reports made dubious claims about his leaving his post. Alles issued a statement, saying: “No doubt you have seen media reports regarding my ‘firing.’ I assure you that this is not the case, and in fact was told weeks ago by the Administration that transitions in leadership should be expected across the Department of Homeland Security.”
Alles has served the American people in a variety of capacities for more than 40 years, including in the U.S. Marine Corps for 35, having retired from the Corps in 2011 as major general.