Economic figures boost Trump after report he called US war dead ‘suckers’

Tentative signs of recovery as US unemployment falls; president fights back over Atlantic article concerning visit to Paris in 2018

US president Donald Trump hailed better than expected economic figures on Friday as the economy showed tentative signs of recovery.

Figures showed that unemployment fell to 8.4 per cent, and employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, suggesting that the United States is making a steady, though slow, return to economic stability despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. "Great Jobs Numbers!" tweeted the president.

The figures gave Mr Trump a much-needed boost, given the sharp sell-off in stocks that occurred on Wall Street this week. A months-long rally in markets came to an abrupt halt on Thursday and Friday, as technology shares fell in value.

But even as Mr Trump tried to highlight his stewardship of the economy as one of his selling points to voters ahead of November's election, his Democratic rival Joe Biden lambasted the president's economic credentials.


In a press conference, Mr Biden said that the president was not interested in the challenges facing blue-collar workers because “it doesn’t affect him or his class of friends”.

“The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency,” the former vice-president said.

The Trump administration spent much of Friday disputing an article in the Atlantic magazine which claimed that Mr Trump did not visit a war cemetery in Paris in 2018 because he did not want to honour fallen soldiers, describing injured and slain military as “losers” and “suckers”.

But Mr Trump hit back, asserting that weather conditions during the Paris visit had prevented him from making the trip.

“If people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars,” he said as he returned from a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday night. “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more.”

But the Biden campaign seized on the report as an example of Mr Trump’s lack of empathy with veterans and military families. In his press conference on Friday, Mr Biden accused Mr Trump of having “no sense of service, no loyalty to any cause other than himself”.

Recalling his late son Beau's time in Iraq as a member of the US military, he said that his son was not a "sucker".

Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran and senator who lost both her legs in Iraq, also hit out at the president's attitude to the military in a Biden campaign phone call.

“He doesn’t understand other people’s bravery and courage because he’s never had any of his own,” she said.

Jacob Blake

Meanwhile, police in Portland, Oregon, confirmed that the main suspect in last weekend’s fatal shooting of a pro-Trump activist during clashes between demonstrators and a convoy of Trump supporters was shot dead as police tried to arrest him late on Thursday night.

Discussions around law and order and policing have surged to the top of the political agenda since the killing of African-American man George Floyd in May.

Mr Biden met the family of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man who was paralysed during a police shooting last month, when he visited Kenosha, Wisconsin this week. Meanwhile in Rochester, New York, seven police officers were suspended after news emerged of the death of an unarmed black man in March after he was restrained and hooded by police.

In a sign that the Biden campaign is trying to emphasise the former vice-president’s credentials when it comes to law and order, his campaign team published a list of almost 200 current and former law enforcement officials who have endorsed the former vice-president.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent