White House asked for USS John McCain to be 'out of sight' during Trump's visit to Japan: WSJ

The White House asked the U.S. Navy to make sure a warship named for late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEsper faces tough questions on dismissal of aircraft carrier's commander Democratic super PAC targets McSally over coronavirus response GOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (R-Ariz.) would be "out of sight" ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE's visit to Japan over the weekend, according to an email obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The email, dated May 15, included an outline of plans for the president's arrival, including instructions for the ship.

“USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,” the email reportedly read. “Please confirm #3 will be satisfied."

ADVERTISEMENT

Officials, including acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE, were aware of the concern about the USS John McCain and approved measures so it would not be visible during Trump's visit, an official told the Wall Street Journal. The ship was originally named after McCain's father and grandfather, with the youngest McCain joining the namesakes in 2018.

The ship has been stationed at the Yokosuka Naval Base near the USS Wasp, where Trump delivered Memorial Day remarks and visited U.S. officers. The Journal also reported that sailors on the ship, who normally wear caps with its name, were given the day off when Trump gave his address.

The White House directed The Hill to statements made by Trump Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Later Wednesday, The Washington Post reported an anonymous White House senior aide said they did not want the destroyer in photographs and though Trump was not involved in the planning the request was made to keep him from being upset during the visit.

A senior Navy official confirmed to the Post someone from the White House sent the request to officials in the Pacific. A tarp was hung Friday obscuring the ship's name — and photographs taken of it — but senior Navy officials ordered the covering removed on Saturday, before the president arrived, the official told the Post.

A Navy official also said the crew of the USS John S. McCain was released from duty due to the holiday weekend, along with sailors from another ship.

ADVERTISEMENT

Late Wednesday evening, Trump responded to the report on Twitter, writing that he had not been informed about the decision.

"I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan," Trump wrote in the tweet. "Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women - what a spectacular job they do!"

McCain's daughter and "The View" co-host Meghan McCainMeghan Marguerite McCainMeghan McCain: Trump may use coronavirus as 'draconian' power grab 'akin to the Patriot Act' Well-wishes pour in across media for Chris Cuomo after coronavirus diagnosis Clay Aiken podcast looks for political balance MORE also weighed in after the report was published on Wednesday, calling Trump "a child." 

Trump visited two military outfits to cap off his weekend trip to Japan. The president then met with U.S. troops aboard the USS Wasp, where he wished them a "very happy Memorial Day."

Over the course of his roughly 30-minute visit, Trump critiqued plans to change the design of some aircraft carriers' catapults, recounted his trip to Japan and praised those aboard for their service.

Trump and McCain feuded on and off, and Trump has repeated his criticism of the late Arizona lawmaker even after his death.

In March, Trump ramped up his criticism of McCain, accusing him of handing a dossier of explosive claims about Trump’s ties to Russia to the FBI for “very evil purposes.” 

He also complained about not receiving a “thank you” for approving funeral arrangements for McCain, despite his dislike for the former senator. 

McCain was memorialized at Washington’s National Cathedral last fall, and Trump was not invited to attend.

Updated at 9:25 p.m.