Despite urging by White House senior aides, President Trump said no to releasing a statement praising Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after his death on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.
McCain died at age 81, one year after announcing he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was a former Vietnam War POW, served in the Senate for decades, and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly both said there should be an official statement calling him a "hero," several aides told the Post, but Trump said he just wanted to tweet out his official response.
His tweet was simple, reading: "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!" The message Sanders and Kelly wanted to release was written before McCain's death, and edited on Saturday, the Post reports. Trump and McCain did not have a good relationship, with Trump once saying he likes people "that weren't captured" and calling McCain "not a war hero"; McCain, for his part, was a vocal critic of Trump's domestic and foreign policy and earned Trump's rage by voting against a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act.
Trump's rejection of a formal statement means nothing to McCain's friend and former aide John Weaver, who told the Post it "certainly doesn't bother me or the people I know close to John. I don't think it bothers John one bit. If we heard something today or tomorrow from Trump, we know it'd mean less than a degree from Trump University."