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- President Donald Trump has faced criticism for his statement following the death of John McCain; it did not say anything kind about the late senator and war hero.
- Trump reportedly rejected a statement from his aides praising McCain, saying he wanted to post his own statement on Twitter instead.
- Trump and McCain had feuded for years, most notably in 2016 when Trump said McCain was “not a war hero” because he had been captured in Vietnam.
- McCain reportedly requested that Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, while Trump was said to not be invited.
President Donald Trump rejected a White House statement mourning the loss of John McCain and praising the late senator and war hero, according to a report from The Washington Post.
Sources told The Post that aides including the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the chief of staff, John Kelly, pushed for a personalized statement praising McCain’s longtime service both in the Navy and in Congress. Multiple drafts of the statement had apparently been written in advance, with a final version prepared for the president’s approval.
Trump reportedly instead told aides he would issue his own statement, which critics noted did not contain a personal message about McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81.
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
The statement stands in stark contrast with the tributes offered by former presidents, congressional colleagues of McCain’s, and world leaders, who used glowing language to mark McCain’s death and note his distinguished military and political career. Melania Trump even took to Twitter to thank McCain for his “service to the nation.”
Sanders, who tweeted Sunday that McCain was a “great American,” declined to comment on The Post’s report Sunday.
Trump had feuded with McCain for years, most notably in 2016 when Trump said McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured by North Vietnamese troops.
“I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.
McCain frequently criticized Trump for his behavior and policies, and he dramatically cast the deciding vote that helped foil the repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year, an act that drew a round of angry tweets from Trump.
Critics on Saturday blasted for president over his words for McCain.
“It’s atrocious,” Mark Corallo, a Republican strategist who previously served as a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, told The Post. “At a time like this, you would expect more of an American president when you’re talking about the passing of a true American hero.”
McCain reportedly requested that Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, while Trump apparently was not invited. Aides told The Post it was unclear whether Trump would be at Capitol Hill on Friday, when McCain is to lie in state as part of his funeral procession.