Democratic Armed Services member demands answers from Navy on reported USS McCain order

Democratic Armed Services member demands answers from Navy on reported USS McCain order
© Greg Nash

A Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee from Arizona is demanding answers from the Navy on its handling of an order to keep the USS John S. McCain “out of sight” during President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s recent visit to Japan.

“As a fellow Arizonan and in the long tradition of U.S. Marines serving with sailors, I am furious that the Navy would allow the service of the McCains to be diminished in this way,” Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Senators call on Pentagon to reinstate funding for Stars and Stripes newspaper Hispanic Caucus campaign chief to mount leadership bid MORE (D-Ariz.) wrote in a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson on Thursday.

“And as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am concerned about how prioritizing the emotional instability of the president over the morale of the USS John S. McCain’s crew will affect readiness,” Gallego added.

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Gallego asked Richardson to explain how the order was received and executed, whether any funding was used to carry it out and how he will “ensure that the Navy protects its greatest heroes against petty White House whims in the future.”

“I expect the Navy to give me and all Arizonans every detail on how this happened and how it won’t happen again,” Gallego added in a tweet to which he attached the letter.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday night that the White House Military Office asked the Navy to keep the USS John S. McCain guided missile destroyer “out of sight” when Trump visited Yokosuka Naval Base on Memorial Day.

The McCain was originally named for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) father and grandfather, but Navy officials added the senator as one of its namesakes last year shortly before his death from brain cancer.

The ship has been docked at the base undergoing repairs since a deadly 2017 collision that killed 10 sailors.

The Navy has denied the ship was obscured during Trump’s visit, but has not denied the order was given.

Trump said he was not aware of the order, but that whoever gave it was “well-meaning” because “they thought I didn’t like him.”

Trump has lashed out at McCain both before and after his death in August. During the presidential campaign, Trump suggested McCain was not a war hero because he was captured. He has also frequently criticized McCain’s vote against a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare.

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 has also said he was unaware of the order to hide the McCain, but said he has asked his chief of staff to investigate.

"I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. McCain,” Shanahan told reporters traveling with him in Asia. “I would never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship.”