On Saturday, President Trump was expected to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, some 60 miles outside of Paris. Once there, he was meant to observe a moment of silence in honor of the Americans that fought and died for their country in a gesture of respect that would be mirrored by France’s Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and Germany’s Angela Merkel, at other sites in and around Paris.
However, when the time came on Saturday, each nation’s leader participated in the gesture except the American president. A statement released by the White House revealed that Trump was unable to visit the cemetery full of American war fighters because of the rain — prompting an immediate backlash on social media. Many drew comparisons to Barrack Obama, who also weathered a digital backlash after he had a U.S. Marine (who are not authorized to carry umbrellas in uniform) hold an umbrella above his head during a speaking engagement in the rain.
The White House has countered the backlash by explaining that poor weather on Saturday morning had reduced visibility to near-zero, making the president’s short flight aboard Marine One too dangerous to allow. That explanation did little to stem the flow of criticisms however, as many Twitter users quickly pointed out that the President also has a bullet proof limousine at his disposal.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders replied to that line of questioning by pointing out that the drive would have taken two and a half hours each way and could have caused serious traffic issues for the residents of Paris. While these explanations did the trick for some, many others still believe it was a lack of interest and respect that prevented the president from making his wreath laying trip a priority.