Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said anonymous sources relied on by The Atlantic for a story that claimed President Donald Trump disparaged World War I veterans in 2018 should “have the courage” to come forward.
Trump has vehemently denied the report, and the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, has said he kept the sources anonymous because they didn’t want to face “angry tweets and all the rest.”
“If you want to make an anonymous comment and if you feel so strongly about that that you make that comment to an established, well-respected reporter and magazine, you ought to have the courage to go out and use your name too,” Hagel told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday morning’s “This Week.”
“I’ve always believed that,” he continued. “I think it’s important now. If these guys who’ve said this or allegedly said it think it’s that important for the future of this country, then they should show some courage and step forward as well.”
Hagel went on to say that the comments, if real, are “beneath the dignity of any commander in chief” and “despicable.”
The former Republican senator, who served as defense secretary for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, expressed his belief that the alleged comments were in line with things Trump has already said about John McCain and former generals John Kelly and James Mattis, who served in his administration. (RELATED: Kayleigh McEnany: The Atlantic’s Four Anonymous Sources Are ‘Cowardly’ And ‘Probably Do Not Even Exist’)
“The history of this president over the last three, four years is pretty clear,” he said, arguing that it “corroborates” The Atlantic’s story.