Biden to host new German chancellor in February
Trump: 'I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be'
President Trump on Tuesday renewed his attacks on the late Sen. John McCain, calling his 2017 vote against repealing ObamaCare "disgraceful" and saying he will "never" be a fan of the Arizona Republican, who died last year.
Trump doubled down on his criticism when asked why he continued to deride McCain seven months after his death from brain cancer, despite blowback from the former senator's family and supporters.
"I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be," Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
The latest comments showed Trump's penchant to stew over long-held grievances, many of which resurfaced in a flurry of weekend tweets targeting McCain, former Vice President Joe Biden, the news media, Democrats, General Motors, the Mueller investigation and others.
"I'm very unhappy that he didn't repeal and replace ObamaCare, as you know," Trump said, referring to McCain's surprise "no" vote that effectively killed congressional Republicans' efforts to overhaul former President Obama's signature health care law.
"He campaigned on repealing and replacing ObamaCare for years and then he got to a vote and he said 'thumbs down,'" Trump added. "I think that's disgraceful, plus there are other things."
Trump has long cited the health care vote as a source of his ire for McCain but also mentioned the late senator's reported role in passing a dossier full of explosive claims about Trump's ties to Russia to federal law enforcement.
In a pair of weekend tweets, Trump wrote that "spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier" is a "dark stain" on McCain's record but asserted his vote against ObamaCare repeal was "far worse."
Trump also wrongly said McCain finished "last in his class" at the U.S. Naval Academy and accused him without evidence of sending the dossier to media organizations "hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election."
McCain acknowledged he alerted then-FBI Director James Comey about the dossier but only when he discovered its existence after the 2016 election. A McCain associate said in a recent legal deposition that he distributed the dossier to news outlets, but it is not clear if he did so at the senator's direction.
Mark Salter, a longtime adviser to McCain who wrote several books with the senator, responded to Trump's latest comments by saying the president lacks the character embodied by the former senator.
"Ok you aren't a fan. One more in a long list of things you are not: Honest, Brave, Smart, Tough, Disciplined, Kind, Generous, Patriotic," Salter wrote.
The message was retweeted by the late senator's daughter Meghan, who also said Monday on ABC's "The View" that Trump "spends his weekend obsessing over great men because he knows it, and I know it and all of you know it, he will never be a great man."
"My father was his kryptonite in life. He's his kryptonite in death," she said.
The bad blood between Trump and McCain dates back to 1999, when the then-business mogul questioned the former naval aviator's record during the Vietnam War, when McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war.
"Does being captured make you a hero? I don't know. I'm not sure," Trump said during a "60 Minutes" interview at the time when McCain was weighing a presidential bid in 2000.
Even though he endorsed McCain's 2008 presidential run and donated to his campaign, Trump resurfaced that critique early in the 2016 Republican presidential primary after McCain criticized his comments about Mexican immigrants.
"He's not a war hero," Trump said of McCain at an event in Iowa in 2015. "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."
McCain sharply criticized Trump's leadership style and foreign policy, calling the president's summer 2018 news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."
Trump was widely criticized for refusing to support the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election while standing beside Putin during his public remarks.
The president's animosity toward McCain was not mentioned at a joint press conference later on Tuesday with Bolsonaro, during which two reporters from each country were permitted to ask questions and none asked about the former senator.
Trump said he was "very proud" to hear Bolsonaro use the term "fake news" during his opening remarks, one of several moments where the two leaders, who share similar views, praised one another.
The U.S. president's remark came in response to a reporter from the conservative Daily Caller, who asked whether he would consider passing laws to punish social media companies for alleged bias against conservatives.
"You look at the networks, you look at the news, you look at the newscasts: I call it fake news," Trump said. "I'm very proud to hear the president use the term fake news."
Trump also dismissed the suggestion he might preempt Democrats by adding justices to the Supreme Court, a controversial idea that has been floated by some of his potential 2020 opponents.
"No, I wouldn't entertain that," Trump said. "We would have no interest in that whatsoever. It will never happen."