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‘I judge a man by his actions’: VA secretary says Trump's pro-troop policies belie media narrative that he disparaged veterans

‘I judge a man by his actions’: VA secretary says Trump's pro-troop policies belie media narrative that he disparaged veterans
US Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie dismissed media reports that Donald Trump disparaged the nation's war dead as "losers," saying the president honors those who fought for the country by taking real steps to help them.

“I judge a man by his actions, and the actions have been beneficial to veterans all across this country in ways we've not seen since the end of World War II,” Wilkie said on Sunday in a CNN interview.

Wilkie said that Trump has led a "renaissance" at the VA, ending decades of negligence in providing prompt and proper medical care to the nation's veterans. He said veterans now give the VA a 90 percent approval rating for its services, up from 37 percent under the Obama administration.

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CNN host Dana Bash pressed Wilkie on how he could disbelieve the media stories on Trump, which began with the Atlantic reporting on Thursday that the president called US soldiers who died in war "losers" and "suckers." She said the Associated Press, Fox and CNN have all confirmed the story.

But Wilkie said the articles were anonymously sourced. The "confirmation" stories were confirmation that anonymous allegations were made – not that Trump actually disparaged the troops. Former and current Trump officials who spoke on the record denied the allegations.

“Anonymous are the same people that brought you fake heart attacks, fake strokes, Russian collusion,” Wilkie said.

Bash said the allegations fit a "pattern of public statements" by Trump because he called US Senator John McCain a loser in 2015 and said McCain was wrong to be considered a war hero for being captured by the North Vietnamese. The CNN host's implication was that Trump's dislike of McCain, who died in 2018, equated to disrespecting veterans.

Wilkie, who also had close ties to McCain and is an admirer of both he and Trump, said: "I understand politics. I understand name-calling. All I can say is, the proof in the pudding for us is what happened to veterans in the last three years, the renaissance."

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