McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism

McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for buying Iranian oil | At least four Americans killed in Sri Lanka attacks | Sanders pushes for Yemen veto override vote McConnell: 'Time to move on' from Trump impeachment talk MORE (R-Ky.) appeared to break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE on Wednesday, calling the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private MORE (R-Ariz.) an "American hero" after recent criticism he received from the president. 

"Today and every day I miss my good friend John McCain," McConnell tweeted. "It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate. His memory continues to remind me every day that our nation is sustained by the sacrifices of heroes."

McConnell's tribute comes during a week in which Trump has lobbed numerous attacks against the former Arizona senator. Trump went after McCain on multiple occasions over the weekend after reports surfaced that one of the then-senator's associates had shared a dossier of allegations about Trump's ties to Russia with the media. 

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"So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) 'last in his class' (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election," Trump tweeted on Sunday. "He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!"

Trump doubled down on his criticism on Tuesday, telling reporters at the Oval Office that he was "never a fan of John McCain."

"And I never will be,” he added. 

McCain, who served in Vietnam before a long career in public service, died of brain cancer in August at the age of 81. McCain spoke out against Trump repeatedly during his final years in the Senate, and drew the president's ire after voting against the GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare in 2017.

Trump has occasionally derided McCain since his death for voting against the effort. Many Democratic lawmakers have condemned Trump's most recent comments. Some GOP lawmakers have also come to McCain's defense. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again Graham challenges Dems to walk the walk on impeachment Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars MORE (R-S.C.) praised McCain's service to the U.S. on Sunday, saying that "nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished."