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 McCainTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril McCain calls on Trump to rescind family separation policy: It's 'an affront to the decency of the American people' Senate passes 6B defense bill MORE (Ariz.) when they have a closed-door lunch Tuesday with President TrumpDonald John Trump20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises Sessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Kim Jong Un to visit Beijing this week MORE

"No, I've said all I'm going to say," said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Senate passes 6B defense bill Justice IG says report doesn’t assess ‘credibility’ of Russian probe MORE (R-S.C.), when asked by The Hill if he would bring up the McCain remarks. 

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' Romney backs Laura Bush on border: 'We need a more compassionate answer' Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump 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."


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 CornynTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Trump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP 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 ThuneTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult 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.