Aide who mocked McCain no longer at White House
Kelly Sadler, the White House communications aide who mocked Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) brain cancer, is no longer working at the White House, a person familiar with the situation told The Hill on Tuesday.
White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed in a statement that “Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the Executive Office of the President.”
The White House faced major backlash over Sadler’s comments last month, which were first reported by The Hill. In an internal meeting, Sadler said that McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s CIA director nominee, Gina Haspel, didn’t matter because he’s “dying anyway.”
The 81-year-old senator has undergone surgery and treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer and has been at home in Arizona for months.
CNN was first to report Tuesday that Sadler was no longer working in the Trump administration.
President Trump declined to comment on the report during a bill signing ceremony when asked by a reporter about Sadler’s job status.
The aide was active in the White House press office with her name on press releases as recently as Monday.
Sadler’s reported exit comes after accusations from McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, that Sadler apologized for the comments privately and promised to do so publicly, before reneging on that promise.
The younger McCain said on ABC’s “The View,” where she is a co-host, that Sadler’s reversal showed the Trump administration to be “incapable” of apologies.
“I was promised an apology, Kelly Sadler, publicly to my family. I did not receive that,” McCain said. “This is not an administration that’s capable of apologizing.”
“When I had a conversation with Kelly, I asked her to publicly apologize and she said she would,” she added. “I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come.”
The aide’s comments sparked an effort inside the West Wing to identify people who leak information to the press, a phenomenon that staff members said made it difficult to do their jobs.
That reportedly led to a contentious exchange in the Oval Office when Sadler allegedly told Trump that senior White House communications aide Mercedes Schlapp was behind several of the leaks, while Schlapp was in the room.
Sadler made her initial comments after John McCain, a top GOP critic of the Trump administration, wrote a letter to his Senate colleagues urging them to reject Haspel’s nomination to the CIA over her past work on the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program, which many consider torture.
“Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” wrote McCain, who was tortured during his time in captivity in Vietnam. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”
Haspel was eventually confirmed to serve as the director of the CIA, with most Republicans and several Democrats backing her nomination.
Sadler has not released any public statements since the incident, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has refused to address the issue at her daily press briefings.
“I’m not going to validate a leak, one way or another, out of an internal staff meeting,” Sanders said during an early May press briefing at the White House.
John Bowden contributed to this report, which was updated at 7 p.m.