Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie blasted a recent report in the Atlantic that claimed President Trump disparaged American veterans and fallen soldiers, and said the current administration has been far better than the previous one in how it has treated veterans.
Wilkie told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the comments attributed to the president in the report by anonymous sources do not reflect the Donald Trump he knows.
"I would be offended, too, if I thought it was true," Wilkie said. "I am very proud that this president has led to a renaissance in veterans affairs." Wilkie said that the Obama administration had a 37% approval rating among veterans in 2014 and 2015, compared to 90% for President Trump.
Host Dana Bash countered Wilkie's skepticism by pointing to reports that "have corroborated parts of that story," and that "nobody is backing down from the sourcing on that."
Wilkie dismissed the idea that no one was backing down from anonymous sources that are said to include generals.
"I was born in khaki diapers. I spent my entire life around the military. And I've never known any general officers to hide behind stars."
Wilkie said that he bases his opinion on what he has seen himself from the president.
"So what I'm looking at is the Donald Trump that I know; the Donald Trump that has turned around Veterans Affairs from a place that in the Obama administration was 16 out of 17 in terms of best places to work," he said. "We're now up to six."
Bash continued to push against Wilkie by bringing up past comments that Trump has said, such as when he said the late Sen. John McCain was not a hero because he was captured.
"I like people that weren't captured," Trump said in July 2015.
Wilkie said that he understood the political context of that remark, which was made "in the passion of the campaign."
"I understand politics, I understand name-calling," he said, but added that "the proof in the pudding for us is what has happened to veterans in the last three years."