Trump explains his no-show at Arlington: 'I was extremely busy on calls'

President Trump admitted Friday he made a mistake by not attending a public event at Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to U.S. soldiers this year on Veterans Day.

“I should have done that,” Trump told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “I was extremely busy on calls for the country; we did a lot of calling as you know.”

Wallace had pointed out that President Barack Obama made a point of going to Arlington every year that he was in Washington on Veterans Day, and pressed Trump, who offered other explanations.

“I could have done that. As you know, I just left the day before the American Cemetery, and I probably think, and that was one where it was raining as hard as you can imagine, and I made a speech at the American Cemetery the day before and I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year,” Trump said. “But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American Cemetery in Paris, and I really probably assumed that was fine, and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state, and other things.”

In fact, Trump did not attend last year’s ceremony at Arlington, either. Traveling in Asia, Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence in his place. Pence did not attend this year’s observance at Arlington, and left on his own trip to Japan later Sunday night.

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Veterans Day around the United States
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Veterans Day around the United States
Boy scout Mateo de La Roche, 11, of Carteret, New Jersey, foreground, holds an image of World War II veteran Michael Wozny, as he takes part in the Veterans Day Parade along New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
U.S. Navy veteran James Grout salutes his uncle's grave on the observed Veterans Day holiday at the Fort Lawton Post Cemetery Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Seattle. Grout makes the rounds of several cemeteries every Veterans Day to honor veteran friends and family members. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Vietnam veteran John Varela waves a flag as Vietnam Veterans were honored during the Veterans Day ceremony in Victorville, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
Members of the High Desert Marines wave from a float during the Veterans Day parade in Victorville, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
Sultana High School's Jr. AFROTC carry an oversized American flag during the Veterans Day parade in Victorville, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from the Tidewater Council join in the Tidewater Veterans Day Parade in Virginia Beach on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
Members of the Virginia Platoon of the Battlin' Betties wave to the crowd during the Tidewater Veterans Day Parade in Virginia Beach on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
As a light snow falls, an American flag marks the grave of World War I veteran George D. Alexander in Fort Logan National Cemetery Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Sheridan, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Leonardo Malpica, 14, second from left, marches up New York's Fifth Avenue with the Navy JROTC from Allentown, Pa., as they take part in the Veterans Day Parade Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Rabbi Michael Feinberg, left, of New York, holds a sign as he marches in the Veterans Day Parade along New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Feinberg, who is not a veteran himself, said his father was a World War II veteran. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
As a light snow falls, a United States flag marks the grave of World War II veteran Modestee Pouppirt in Fort Logan National Cemetery, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Sheridan, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Dressed as World War I doughboys, a group makes its way up New York's Fifth Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
As a light snow falls, visitors pay respects at a gravesite in Fort Logan National Cemetery Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Sheridan, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
People watch as the Veterans Day Parade makes it's way up New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
People watch as the Veterans Day Parade makes it's way up New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
People watch as the Veterans Day Parade makes it's way up New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
People hold flags as they watch the Veterans Day Parade makes it's way up New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
A member of a Veterans Honor Guard checks the American Flag he is holding prior to participating in the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Members of the VFW National Honor Guard participate in the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
People stand in line to enter the Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater to attend the National Veterans Day Observance, in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
An unidentified Honor Guard member marches with the American Flag during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemeter in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Dressed as General George Washington, Michael Drillo, of Scarsdale, New York, center, watches as the Veterans Day Parade makes its way up New York's Fifth Avenue Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
A member of the Army 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, stands watch during the National Veterans Day Observance in the Arlington National Cemetery Ampitheater, in Arlington, Va., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
A child holds an American flag during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, left, lowers his head after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Dan Quick, of VFW Post 7654, plays "Taps" at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP)
Dakota Carmichael, 2, carries a pair of flags as she rides in a wagon during the Veterans Day Parade in Meridian, Miss., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)
A child runs alongside a truck from Hope Bible Church in Meridian, Miss., as he waits for candy to be thrown during the city's Veterans Day parade Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)
The VFW Post 7654 honor guard gives a 21-gun salute at the annual Veterans Day ceremony in Ashland, Pa., on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP)
Two-year-old Caiden Smith cuddles with Cody, a black lab, during a Veterans Day ceremony, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Wrightwood, Calif. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and other reenactors fire off a volley as they deliver a 21 Gun Salute at the Houston Salutes American Heroes Veterans Day Celebration Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Houston honoring the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the World War I Armistice. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)
City of Hialeah Honor Guard Sargeant Ana Guerra plays TAPS at Triangle Park celebrating Veteran's Day on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Hialeah, Fla. (C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald via AP)
Peter Weal, a retired army captain, salutes as he participates in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Grand Parade in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. Events mark 100 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the World War I. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP)
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, at right, places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Bill Spivey plays the bagpipe during the Veterans Day ceremony at Mystique Community Ice Center in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Nicki Kohl/Telegraph Herald via AP)
AvaLynn Brothers, 2, sits in the lap of her aunt, Bethany Hall, as the two wave flags while watching the annual Veterans Day Parade, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Owensboro, Ky. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Brenda Mattingly, from left, JoAnn McDonald, Donna Curry, Brent Curry, Billy Ford and Carolyn Ford wave and hold flags on the sidewalk as the annual Veterans Day Parade passes by on E. Second Street, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Owensboro, Ky. (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Spectators line Front St. for the Southeast North Carolina Veterans Day Parade in downtown Wilmington, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Matt Born/The Star-News via AP)
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The president was already facing criticism for canceling an appearance at the Aisene-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France to commemorate the end of World War I. The White House cited rain as the reason for his no-show. When other European leaders attended the ceremony despite the light rain, Trump blamed his own Secret Service detail, saying they had nixed the trip because it was unsafe to fly and the president’s motorcade would snarl traffic in Paris.

Trump did appear, the day after the World War I commemoration, at the Surenses American Cemetery in the suburbs of Paris to pay tribute to U.S. and allied soldiers who were killed in the Great War.

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