Mulvaney defends White House aide over ‘dying’ McCain comment: It was ‘joke’ in ‘private meeting’
.@MickMulvaneyOMB: "You have to have a freedom to speak in a private meeting to speak candidly. We've all said things in private, esp. in smaller groups that we work with, that we'd never say publicly…I'm really disappointed that someone would undermine @POTUS by leaking it." pic.twitter.com/MtBw4ImfTK
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 12, 2018
White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney on Saturday defended the White House aide who made a derisive comment about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), saying the real issue was that the “bad joke” had been leaked to the press.
“This was a private meeting inside the White House. It was a joke. It was a badly considered joke that she said fell flat,” Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said during an appearance on Fox News.
But Mulvaney argued that the leak of the comment posed the greater issue: “The leak was designed to hurt that person. Also, it completely ignored the harm it would do to the McCain family, which is doubly inconsiderate.”
The Hill first reported Thursday that special assistant Kelly Sadler had mocked McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis a day after the Arizona Republican had come out against Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, according to a source familiar with the remarks at the internal meeting.
The White House on Friday faced backlash over the comment from lawmakers and members of the media, with figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden and GOP Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney blasting those mocking McCain.
McCain, 81, is in Arizona battling brain cancer.
Sarler called McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, after news broke of her comment, a source told The Hill on Thursday.
Despite the controversy over the remark, Mulvaney said Saturday he does not support calls for Sadler to be fired.
“You have to have freedom to speak in a private meeting. We have all said things in private … that we would never say publicly. I think she handled it appropriately,” he said.