Trump noticeably snubbed the 81-year-old Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, who is battling brain cancer, when he signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act on Monday at Fort Drum in New York.
“I want to thank our wonderful Vice President, Mike Pence, and say a special hello to the incredible patriots of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division. Special people. Thank you,” Trump began his speech.
Though he also thanked Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik among others, Trump never named McCain — and even omitted his name from the title of the bill.
“I’m here today to sign our new defense bill into law and to pay tribute to the greatest soldiers in the history of the world: the United States Army,” the president said.
“We believe our warfighters deserve the tools, the equipment, and resources they have earned with their blood, sweat, and tears. In honor of that sacred obligation, I will put my signature on the National Defense Authorization Act,” Trump said. “This authorization will give America’s warfighters the firepower they need to win any conflict quickly and decisively.”
That same day, McCain’s longtime aide Mark Salter tweeted, “For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday.”
Meanwhile, McCain released a statement on his website, choosing not to mention Trump’s snub.
“I’m proud the NDAA is now law & humbled Congress chose to designate it in my name. As Chairman of the Armed Services Cmte, I’ve found high purpose in service of a cause greater than self—the cause of our troops who defend America & all that she stands for,” he said.
McCain’s wife Cindy celebrated her husband on Twitter, writing, “I’m so proud of @SenJohnMcCain and his work on NDAA. Incredibly humbled at the naming of this after my husband.”
Trump and McCain’s relationship has been rocky these past few years.
Days after he announced the cancer diagnoses in 2017, McCain voted against the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which angered Trump.
While giving a speech in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president criticized McCain for his decision, although he opted out of mentioning McCain by name.
Most memorably in 2015, Trump accused the former Vietnam prisoner of war of not being a “hero” because he had been captured.