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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? 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 McCainMontana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight How Obama just endorsed Trump Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 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 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 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.