Republicans unlikely to bring up McCain controversy in Trump lunch
© Camille Fine

Several Republican senators said it's unlikely they will bring up the controversial remark a White House staffer made about GOP Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainComey: Trump revoking Brennan's security clearance shows 'he will punish people who disagree with him' Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape MORE (Ariz.) when they have a closed-door lunch Tuesday with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE

"No, I've said all I'm going to say," said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOn The Money: Turkey slaps more tariffs on US goods | Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill | Senate turns to toughest 'minibus' yet Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill White House staff offered discounts at Trump's NJ golf club: report MORE (R-S.C.), when asked by The Hill if he would bring up the McCain remarks. 

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP Senate candidate truncates Trump tweet in campaign mailer GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs Hatch 'not comfortable' with Trump calling Omarosa a 'dog' MORE (R-Ariz.) separately indicated he wouldn't raise the issue during the closed-door meeting, adding other Republican senators "could raise it, but I doubt they will."

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Flake and Graham are two of McCain's closest allies in the Senate. And Flake previously confronted then-candidate Trump in a 2016 lunch with the caucus over Trump's rhetoric on McCain. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTop Senate Intel Dem: Trump compiling a 'Nixonian enemies list' It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy Archivist rejects Democrats' demand for Kavanaugh documents MORE (R-Texas), asked if Republicans would bring up McCain, said: "No."

Trump is heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with Senate Republicans amid a days-long firestorm over comments first reported by The Hill from White House special assistant Kelly Sadler, who dismissed McCain's opposition to Gina Haspel's CIA director nomination by saying McCain is "dying anyway." 

The 81-year-old senator has been absent from Washington since late last year as he battles brain cancer. But he last week issued a statement urging the Senate to reject Haspel's nomination. 

Sadler's remark has sparked outrage among McCain's Senate colleagues. A growing number of GOP senators are urging either the White House or Sadler to issue a public apology

"Obviously what was said was very wrong and inappropriate. It would have been a lot easier if they had just nipped it right away and she came out and issued a public apology. ... Now it's drug on for five days," GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneEx-Trump adviser: Shutdown 'not worst idea in the world' 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Senate clears 4B ‘minibus’ spending measure MORE (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters. 

But the White House signaled on Monday that neither it nor Sadler would be offering a public apology. 

Deputy press secretary Raj Shah confirmed that Sadler called McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, to apologize for her remarks but said the matter was being "dealt with internally."

Trump on Twitter blasted not the insult but "the so-called leaks" coming out of the White House. He also warned that people leaking information are  "traitors" and "cowards" who will be rooted out.