Trump claims USS McCain report was 'an exaggeration, or even Fake News'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE on Thursday sought to distance himself from a reported decision by military officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain during his trip to Japan, calling the report "an exaggeration, or even fake news."

"The Navy put out a disclaimer on the McCain story," Trump said in a tweet Thursday evening. "Looks like the story was an exaggeration, or even Fake News - but why not, everything else is!"

Trump earlier Thursday defended the reported decision, 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.

The remarks came after The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that officials asked that the Navy ship — named for the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe DNC's climate problems run deep Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge Trump's health care focus puts GOP on edge MORE's (R-Ariz.) father and grandfather, with the late senator joining the namesakes in 2018 — be "out of sight" Trump was in Japan.

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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. Trump and McCain maintained a contentious relationship until the senator's death from brain cancer last August. 

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless 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.

Trump knocked McCain later Thursday for his vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He said he "was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form."

Trump has frequently lashed out at McCain, targeting the senator even after his death.