John McCain Family Sources Dispute Reports He Asked Not to Have Donald Trump at Funeral
Despite Sen. John McCain and President Donald Trump's rocky history, the war hero and longtime politician did not prohibit Trump from attending his funeral
“John had a feud with the president, and it got pretty intense, but I never heard anyone in the family say John banned Trump, and he never said that to me,” the source tells PEOPLE. “John didn’t ban Trump. John could be spiteful, and he loved a good fight, but he wouldn’t do something like that.”
A second family source adds: “I didn’t hear John say it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if John didn’t want Trump there.”
Sen. McCain, who died of brain cancer at age 81 on Saturday, “will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland,” according to his official website, which notes the funeral schedule will be announced at a later time.
Before his death, Sen. McCain asked that former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush speak at his funeral, according to CBS News. The New York Times reported that two unnamed Republicans familiar with the funeral plans indicated former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have already been requested to offer eulogies, while Vice President Mike Pence — not President Donald Trump, who publicly disparaged McCain on numerous occasions — is expected to attend.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden will reportedly speak at an Arizona service in Sen. McCain’s honor.
Of reports that Melania Trump will be attending services for Sen. McCain, a spokeswoman for First Lady tells PEOPLE, “We have made no announcements so any reports you are seeing did not come from our office.”
Trump and Sen. McCain publicly were at odds several times over recent years. In 2015, Trump criticized Sen. McCain’s military service. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said, referring to the five and a half years Sen. McCain spent fighting for his life as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
After a hot mic tape of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women was leaked, McCain withdrew his endorsement and announced in a statement that he would not vote for Trump — nor his opponent, Hillary Clinton — in the 2016 presidential election.
“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set,” said the former presidential candidate. “But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.
He added, “Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president.”
After McCain’s family announced he would no longer be seeking medical treatment for stage-four brain cancer on Friday, Trump was not among the politicians from both sides of the aisle to send his well wishes — he did, however, give shout outs to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at a fundraising dinner for the Ohio Republican Party in Columbus Friday evening.
“All of a sudden those numbers started going up, up, up, and we did great. Now we’re doing great and Kanye West liked me. And that really lifted my [numbers],” Trump praised the rapper during his speech as seen in a video obtained by NBC News.
“Kanye West has some real power! And he’s got a good wife too in Kim, I’ll tell ya. She really is. She did a great thing, a great thing,” he continued, referencing how he pardoned Alice Marie Johnson following the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality star’s months-long campaign.
In another apparent snub from the president, flags at the White House have returned to full-staff less than two days after Sen. McCain’s death. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “the flag is to be flown at half-staff … on the day and day after the death of a United States senator, representative,” or other leaders. However, in order to keep the White House flags at half-staff in honor of Sen. McCain longer, Trump would need to issue a proclamation, which he has not done. (The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
Trump’s lack of action breaks with precedent. When Sen. Ted Kennedy died in 2009 and Sen. Daniel Inouye died in 2012, Obama asked in both cases that flags remain at half-staff “until sunset on the day of his interment,” which has not yet arrived for Sen. McCain, NBC News noted.
Trump shared a tweet addressing McCain’s death on Saturday. “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” he wrote.
- With reporting by SUSAN KEATING and LINDA MARX
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