Trump nixed White House statement praising McCain: report
President Trump rejected a White House statement praising Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) following his death on Saturday, according to a Washington Post report.
Trump reportedly told his aides that he preferred to tweet his condolence, and tweeted out a pared-down statement in which he did not offer praise of the Arizona Republican.
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain,” Trump tweeted after reports confirmed that McCain had died. “Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, chief of staff John Kelly and other White House aides advocated for a detailed official statement that referred to McCain as a “hero” and gave him accolades for his military service, the Post reported. Aides wrote the statement and Sanders edited it over the weekend.
Trump declined to release the statement.
McCain, 81, died after a yearlong battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Even as his condition deteriorated as he received medical treatment in Arizona, Trump continued to mock the late senator at campaign-style rallies, criticizing him for his “no” vote on a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act.
The two had an adversarial relationship, and McCain often criticized the president for his conduct and policies.
Following the widely-criticized summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, McCain said, “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
Trump drew widespread blowback when he said McCain, who was held captive as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, was “not a war hero.”
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said in 2015. “I like people that weren’t captured.”
Trump was reportedly not invited to McCain’s funeral.
Top Trump administration officials posted flattering eulogies of McCain throughout the weekend, including Sanders, Vice President Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
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