As Meghan McCain rebuked President Donald Trump's politics in all but name at her father's funeral last year, Trump's daughter and son-in-law watched
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Funeral Service-Sen. John S. McCain , a six-term senator from Arizona and former Republican nominee for president, died Aug. 25 from brain cancer. He was 81.
Credit: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty

Last year, as Meghan McCain spoke powerfully of her late father Sen. John McCain‘s legacy at his funeral — rebuking the politics of President Donald Trump in everything but name — she looked out over a crowd from which Trump had been pointedly excluded.

But what Meghan did not know before the funeral was that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, would be in the audience.

“I didn’t know they were coming, I didn’t know until I saw them there,” Meghan, 34, told Porter magazine for its spring 2019 issue.

She said: “I looked over and saw them and well… they got to listen to what I had to say.”

What she had to say indeed: Though Meghan never mentioned the president’s name, she repeatedly invoked the example of her own father against “the opportunistic appropriation of those that live lives of comfort and privilege.”

She also took aim at Trump’s signature vow to “make America great again.”

“The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She is resourceful, confident, and secure. … America does not boast because she has no need to,” Meghan said in her eulogy. “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

Ivanka and Kushner, top aides to Trump, were in attendance as Meghan spoke.

When the late senator and onetime nominee for president died of brain cancer last summer at 81, Trump, who had personally disparaged him amid their political disagreements, was not invited.

“Even though it was a very public funeral, we are still a family,” Cindy McCain, John’s wife, later told the BBC. “It was important to me that we kept it respectful and calm and not politicize it.”

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Sen. John McCain’s funeral in Washington, D.C.
| Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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From left: Cindy McCain, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
| Credit: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty; Grant Lamos IV/Getty

According to the New York Times, Ivanka and Jared were invited to the funeral — at which former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama spoke — at the behest of Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of John’s closest friends.

“Graham invited Ms. Trump after she expressed her condolences to him during a meeting on Capitol Hill this week,” the paper reported.

The couple’s appearance drew some headlines at the time. Days later, Meghan’s View co-host Abby Huntsman addressed it on the show, saying then:

“Look, I’m sure [the McCains] had final approval of everything, if they had it their way — as was evident in the tone of the funeral — they probably would rather not have had anyone from the Trump family present.”

A McCain family friend tells PEOPLE that, despite how her Porter interview was framed, “Meghan wasn’t implying that they [Ivanka and Kushner] crashed” her father’s funeral.

“There were a lot of people involved in the planning of the funeral, and she does not know whose list they were on,” the friend says.

• With reporting by PHIL BOUCHER and LIZ McNEIL