Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, sought on Thursday night to capitalize on the Atlantic article, quickly issuing a statement condemning the president and saying it demonstrated that Mr. Trump was not fit for the office. Mr. Biden said the article, if true, showed “another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the president of the United States.”
“I have long said that, as a nation, we have many obligations, but we only have one truly sacred obligation — to prepare and equip those we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families, both while they are deployed and after they return home. That’s the foundation of what Jill and I believe,” said Mr. Biden, whose late son, Beau Biden, served overseas. “If I have the honor of serving as the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.”
Mr. Trump’s trip to Paris in November 2018 came at a tense moment for him. Republicans had just lost the House in midterm elections when he flew to France to attend a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
During the trip, he was angered when President Emmanuel Macron of France seemed to rebuke Mr. Trump by saying in a speech that “nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying: ‘Our interest first. Who cares about the others?’”
But it was Mr. Trump’s failure to go through with a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery at the foot of the hill where the Battle of Belleau Wood was fought that drew the most attention. Aides at the time cited the rain in canceling a helicopter flight, but the president’s absence went over badly in Europe and in the United States. Mr. Trump did pay respects to the war dead the next day at the Suresnes American Cemetery outside Paris.
At the time of the visit to France, advisers were blunt in confiding that Mr. Trump was in a foul mood and was quizzing aides about whether he should replace John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general and his White House chief of staff at the time.
Several White House officials at the time said the decision that Mr. Trump would not take Marine One to the Belleau Wood cemetery was made by Zachary Fuentes, a deputy White House chief of staff and close aide to Mr. Kelly, without consulting the president’s military aide. Others argued that a motorcade trip by road would have taken too long, at roughly two hours. Administration officials said at the time that Mr. Fuentes had assured Mr. Trump it was fine to miss the visit. Mr. Kelly traveled to the cemetery himself in the president’s place along with Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.