In the wake of a bombshell article portraying President Donald Trump as dismissive and disrespectful toward U.S. service members and veterans, voices on both sides of the aisle have called on the anonymous sources and others to comment on the record.
While former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is central to the allegations, has yet to come forward, his ex-deputy did — and he denied that the president said anything close to what sources told The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, as reported by Breitbart.
“I don’t know who the sources are”
Zach Fuentes addressed the ongoing controversy by categorically denying that he was one of the four unnamed sources cited in the article, which alleged that Trump used derogatory terms to describe active and former military members, including those who died in combat.
Goldberg’s piece further claimed the president’s disregard for the armed forces was a primary reason that he did not want to visit a military cemetery during a 2018 visit to France.
“I don’t know who the sources are,” Fuentes said, according to Breitbart. “I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather. Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?”
So far, at least 21 individuals have stated on the record that they did not hear Trump make the comments attributed to him.
“It’s not good enough”
While Goldberg stands by his reporting and the reliability of his sources, he acknowledged that critics of his article have a valid point in their misgivings about his choice to grant blanket anonymity.
“I share that view that it’s not good enough,” he said on Monday during an MSNBC interview. “But, you know, like other reporters, I’m always balancing out the moral ambiguities and complications after anonymous sourcing with the public’s right to know.”
With so many other administration insiders publicly refuting those reports, however, it might become increasingly difficult for Goldberg to defend his sources unless they come forward.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was among those who accompanied Trump on the international trip and provided an account that contradicted the anonymous sources.
“I’m not an anonymous source,” she said, according to Fox News. “I’m going on the record and I’m telling you it didn’t happen. That’s not who this president is and that’s not how he feels about the men and women who serve in our military.”
When Americans make up their minds about who to believe, many are likely to take a source’s willingness to go on the record into account.