In his attempt to paint his meeting with the dictator of North Korea as a triumph, despite the complete lack of concrete pledges from Kim Jong-un, President Trump cited an agreement for the return of the remains of American dead from the Korean War.
He said he was fulfilling requests made to him during the 2016 campaign by people who apparently were already calling him Mr. President.
“The soldiers that died in Korea, their remains are going to be coming back home,” he told Fox News during an interview aboard Air Force One on his return from Singapore.
“And we have thousands of people that have asked for that, thousands and thousands of people. So many people asked when I was on the campaign, I’d say ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have any relationship…’, but they said, ‘When you can President, we’d love our son to be brought back home’. You know the remains.”
While it may sound plausible and has been faithfully reported by many news outlets as a fact, there is considerable skepticism about Trump’s claims which appear to be another addition to his long list of exaggerations, lies and fake news claims.
One of the skeptics is journalist Aaron Rupar of ThinkProgress.
Trump claims, preposterously, that parents of Korean War veterans came up to him during the 2016 campaign and said, "when you can, we'd love our son to be brought back home — you know, the remains."
The Korean War ended in 1953. pic.twitter.com/f4HEHZ22YM
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 13, 2018
Rupar crunched the numbers which show Trump’s claim about parents of Korean vets coming to him by the “thousands” has to be an exaggeration if not another outright lie.
“Let’s do the math,” writes Rupar. “Say an American soldier was 18 when he was sent to North Korea in the war’s final year, 1953 – he would have been 80 in 2015; if his parents had given birth to him when they were 18, they would have been 98 in 2015.”
“More realistically,” he adds, “the parents would have been well over 100.”
“While almost all parents of fallen Korean War veterans would’ve been much older than that in 2016, it’s not inconceivable that a 99-year-old parent of a fallen Korean War veteran might have approached Trump during the campaign,” writes Rupar on ThinkProgress.
“But note that Trump claimed multiple parents approached him to say, ‘we’d love our son to be brought back home,” adds Rupar’ “That seems exceedingly unlikely, at best.”
At best, but like his other claims that many people have said to him (fill in the blank) there is no way to confirm this, and it fails the common sense test, so that means one thing.
That is not to say there are not those that want the remains returned of an estimated 5,300 believed to have fallen or been captured in North Korea who have not been accounted for despite some previous agreements.
“All of our members have served in combat and we understand the importance of bring our war dead home to bring closure to families,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Keith Harman told NPR.
But once again Trump is grasping for anything that makes him look like a hero.
After agreeing to the summit with the petty dictator of a small country, Trump promised he would demand complete denuclearization, but that is not what he got, so he continues to exaggerate even small points like this to feed his base more nonsense.
It is unfair to those brave soldiers who died in the Korean War, to their parents who are now almost all surely dead themselves, and to the American people who want to trust their president.
It is exactly the kind of fake news that has the country divided between those who want facts, truth and the rule of law, and those who believe whatever Trump claims no matter how preposterous – which is the case with this claim.