No apology forthcoming for 'he's dying anyway' quip about McCain
May 13 at 4:06 PM Email the author
Advisers to President Trump paid tribute Sunday to the long service of Sen. John McCain but stopped short of apologizing to him for a cruel remark by a White House communications aide about the Arizona Republicanâs battle with brain cancer.
In a prepared statement, and in some public appearances, Trump advisers praised McCainâs service as a senator and naval aviator held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. But they declined to comment on the remarks of Kelly Sadler, who told other communications aides at a closed-door staff meeting that McCainâs opposition to Gina Haspel as CIA director did not matter because âheâs dying anyway.â
In an appearance Sunday on CNNâs âState of the Union,â national security adviser John Bolton said he remained grateful for McCainâs past support, particularly during Boltonâs 2005 confirmation ba ttle to be ambassador to the United Nations, a post for which Senate Democrats blocked him before President George W. Bush gave Bolton an interim appointment.
[Lindsey O. Graham blasts White House aideâs McCain remark as âpretty disgusting thing to sayâ]
McCain worked with other senators to try to win enough votes for Bolton to overcome a filibuster, at a time when Boltonâs political standing was not strong because of the unpopular direction of the Iraq War. He was a fierce advocate for the war.
âHe did it because he thought I was being treated unfairly. Iâll never forget it, Iâll be grateful forever, and I wish John McCain and his family nothing but the best,â Bolton said on CNN.
Pressed by the networkâs Jake Tapper on whether he would apologize for Sadlerâs remark, Bolton demurred. âIâve said what Iâm going to say,â he said.
Later Sunday, Meghan McCain, the senatorâs daughter, told ABC News that Sadler had called he r to apologize but had still not acquiesced to the younger McCainâs request for a public apology.
âI asked her to publicly apologize and she said she would. I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come,â Meghan McCain told ABC.
The story of Sadlerâs remarks broke Thursday afternoon in the Hill newspaper, prompting a White House statement that praised âSenator McCainâs service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.â
By Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to confirm that the comments were spoken and did not rebuke Sadlerâs remark, even as The Washington Post and other media outlets confirmed the exchange.
That stance has angered allies of McCain, both Republicans and Democrats, who view the senator as a war hero.
âItâs [a] pretty disgusting thing to say, if it was a joke, it was a terrible joke,â Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBSâs âFace the Nation.â âI just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate, thatâs not who we are in the Trump administration.â
Graham, the rare senator who has maintained good relations with McCain and the president, suggested that Trump might consider apologizing himself on behalf of the entire White House.
McCain has been home in Arizona since mid-December battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. Sadlerâs comment came after McCainâs announcement on Wednesday that, if he were present in the Senate for Haspelâs confirmation vote set for this month, he would oppose her because of her role in helping the âenhanced interrogationsâ of terrorism suspects held at secret CIA black sites in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
[Fox Business guest says torture âworkedâ on John McCain]
A prisoner of war for 5Â½ years in Vietnam, McCain endured torture and has long opposed U. S. operatives engaging in torture techniques, which he believes go against American values and are ineffective at obtaining accurate information.
McCain is not expected to be on hand for the vote, and Haspel appears to have enough votes to win confirmation after Indiana Sen. Joe Donnellyâs announcement Saturday that he would be the second Democrat to back Haspel.
McCain and Trump have had a bitter relationship since Trumpâs first days campaigning for president, when he mocked McCainâs status as a war hero because he had been shot down by the Vietnamese. McCain spent most of 2017 criticizing Trumpâs America First foreign policy as âhalf bakedâ and destructive to global alliances.
After being staunchly against Trump, competing against him in the 2016 presidential primary, Graham grew closer to the president last summer and has become a sometime golf partner who tries to steer him in his direction on policy issues.
âJohn McCain can be critici zed for any political decision heâs ever made or any vote heâs ever cast but heâs an American hero. And I think most Americans would like to see the Trump administration do better in situations like this,â Graham said.
His CBS interview aired from Jerusalem, where Graham is leading a Senate delegation attending the Monday opening of the U.S. embassy there, a controversial move by Trump.
Other prominent Republicans have pushed White House officials for a more forceful support of McCain.
âThose who mock such greatness only humiliate themselves and their silent accomplices,â Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and a Senate candidate in Utah, tweeted Saturday.
Tapper, after his show aired, reported that Sadler called Meghan McCain to apologize, and she told the senatorâs daughter that she would publicly apologize. As of Sunday afternoon, neither Sadler nor anyWhite House official had publicly apologized.Source: Google News