Trump: Whoever moved to obscure USS McCain was 'well-meaning'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE on Thursday defended the reported decision by military officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain during his trip to Japan, saying whoever made the order was "well-meaning."

"I didn't know anything about it. I would never have done that," Trump told reporters as he departed the White House to deliver a commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Trump went on to chastise the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.) for his vote that helped doom GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare in 2017, saying he "was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form."


“But I would never do a thing like that,” he added. “Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him. And they were well-meaning, I will say."

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that White House officials requested the Navy ship bearing the late senator's name — it was originally named after McCain's father and grandfather, with the youngest McCain joining the namesakes in 2018 — be "out of sight" when Trump visited Japan over Memorial Day weekend.

Officials were aware of the concern about the USS McCain and approved measures so it would be hidden during Trump's state visit, an official told the Journal.

The Washington Post and New York Times later confirmed the Journal's reporting. None of the outlets reported that Trump was involved in making the request, and he has denied knowledge of the decision.

It's unclear who at the White House reached out to raise concerns about the presence of the USS McCain. The Journal reported that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Navy and the White House were involved in discussions.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE told reporters early Thursday while traveling abroad that he was unaware of the incident with the USS McCain and that he's ordered his chief of staff to look into the matter.

"I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. McCain. I would never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship," said Shanahan, who has been nominated as the full-time Pentagon chief.

Trump has frequently lashed out at McCain, targeting the senator for criticism even after his death last year from brain cancer.

The president has suggested McCain was not a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam, has repeatedly slammed his 2017 vote against an effort to repeal ObamaCare and has complained about the Arizona Republican's ties to a dossier of allegations about Trump's alleged ties to Russia.

Trump stoked controversy when he waited to lower flags to half-staff following the senator's death and escalated the issue when he claimed earlier this year he was not properly thanked for giving McCain "the kind of funeral that he wanted."

Meghan McCainMeghan Marguerite McCainMeghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women Sanders aide hits 'millionaires on "The View"' after segment on Warren dispute Meghan McCain blasts Trump for 'bullying widows at a public rallies' MORE excoriated Trump over the latest controversy involving her father. She tweeted after the story broke Wednesday night that the president “is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life.”

On Thursday, she said she doesn’t blame the military for the incident involving the ship, but pointed to Trump’s insistence on attacking the late senator for creating a toxic culture surrounding the McCain name.

“You’re putting people in the military in horrific situations,” she said on “The View,” where she is a co-host. “Because they’re fearful of their jobs, if God forbid you’re a sailor on this ship you think there’s going to be some kind of retribution. And I think it’s horrible. I think it’s bad for Americans. And I think we really have to look at the kind of culture that’s being put in place.”

Updated at 11:22 a.m.