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 McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (Ariz.) when they have a closed-door lunch Tuesday with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE

"No, I've said all I'm going to say," said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Trump should stick to his guns and close failed South Carolina nuclear MOX project CNN's Smerconish: What do Saudis have over American presidents? MORE (R-S.C.), when asked by The Hill if he would bring up the McCain remarks. 

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CornynO'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown 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 ThuneDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Through a national commitment to youth sports, we can break the obesity cycle Florida politics play into disaster relief debate 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.