While Trump insisted he wasn't involved with a reported effort to hide a Navy ship named for Sen. John McCain, he still praised the "well meaning" intentions of whoever did ask
Someone in the White House wanted to make sure a warship named for Sen. John McCain’s family was kept “out of sight” of President Donald Trump during his recent trip to the Yokosuka naval base in Japan, according to multiple news reports.
And while Trump insists he wasn’t involved, he still praised the “well meaning” intentions of whoever did.
“I would never do a thing like that. Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, okay? And they were well meaning, I will say,” Trump told reporters on Thursday morning outside the White House. “I didn’t know anything about it.”
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal (and later confirmed by CNN and The New York Times), an official in the White House Military Office asked the Navy how they could keep the USS John S. McCain out of view of the president during his trip to the base.
Ultimately, the ship was not moved or obscured while Trump was there, according to these reports.
“Once leadership heard about it, they said knock it off,” one senior Navy official told CNN.
Trump spent four days in Japan on a state visit, arriving Saturday, and delivered a speech at the Yokosuka on Tuesday.
The McCain’s sailors, who would have usually been wearing hats with his name, were given the day off, according to the Journal. The Times reports that the ship’s sailors were not invited to Trump’s speech and when some tried to attend anyway, they were blocked.
The McCain is named after three generations of the late senator’s family, including his father and grandfather. His name was added last year, not long before he died.
President Trump and McCain had a tempestuous relationship prior to the senator’s death from brain cancer. The president called McCain’s war hero status into question and labeled him “evil.” McCain famously voted against Trump’s efforts to dismantle Obamacare, essentially dooming the effort at the last second.
Trump’s disparagement of McCain continued even after the latter’s death. And he did not shy away from his opinion when asked about the Navy destroyer Thursday.
“I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care,” he told reporters. “I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form. I think John McCain had a lot to getting President Bush — a lot to do with it — to go into the Middle East, which was a catastrophe.
To me, John McCain — I wasn’t a fan.”
Asked if he owed the sailors of USS McCain an apology, he replied, “No, not at all.”
“I heard sailors all went on. We had a tremendous group of sailors from various ships. It was a beautiful day. But the McCain thing, I knew nothing about,” he said.
The White House did not answer questions from the Journal about efforts to hide the warship or who first made the request.
On Twitter on Wednesday, the senator’s daughter Meghan McCain called the president “a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life.”
“There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP,” she wrote. “So I have to stand up for him.”