Pentagon: Shanahan unaware of directive to move USS John S. McCain during Trump visit

A spokesperson for the Pentagon said early Thursday morning that acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanWhy Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary Five questions for Trump's new defense secretary on first major tour Trump says media is part of vetting his nominees: 'We save a lot of money that way' MORE had not been aware that the White House asked the U.S. Navy to make sure the USS John S. McCain was “out of sight” for President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE’s visit to Japan.

"Secretary Shanahan was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive,” Lt. Colonel Joe Buccino said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Shanahan told Defense One that he has directed his chief of staff to look into the incident because he never authorized any “action around the movement of activity regarding that ship.”

“Furthermore, I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. McCain,” Shanahan said. “I would never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship.“

The Pentagon’s response contradicts an initial report by The Wall Street Journal that said Shanahan and other officers were aware of the White House’s concern.

The White House sent the U.S. Navy plans to hide the ship ahead of Trump’s visit to Japan, according to an email obtained by the newspaper.

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

“USS John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire MORE needs to be out of sight,” the email reportedly read. “Please confirm #3 will be satisfied."

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 USS John S. McCain, who normally wear caps with its name, were given the day off when Trump gave his address.

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, The Washington Post reported.

Trump responded to the report on Twitter, writing late Wednesday 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!"

The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was a frequent critic of Trump.

His decision to vote "no" on a "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act was credited with killing the last Republican attempt to repeal the law.

Trump’s attacks targeting McCain have continued after the senator’s death.