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 McCainEx-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat Man acquitted over tweet offering 0 to killing an ICE agent Lessons of the Kamala Harris campaign MORE (R-Ariz.) would be "out of sight" ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe 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 ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary 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 McCainBidens confirm 'we still love each other' after finger biting goes viral Trump Jr. visit to 'The View' boosts ratings to highest in six months Meghan McCain to Trump Jr. on 'The View': 'You and your family have hurt a lot of people' 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.