President Trump said Thursday that the attempt by White House staffers to hide the destroyer USS John S. McCain during his trip to Japan was “well meaning” given his personal enmity for the late Arizona senator and former Republican presidential nominee.
Trump also denied any knowledge of an effort to keep the warship’s name obscured while the president visited Yokosuka Naval Base this week, but he also attacked McCain for his July 2017 vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act that tanked Republicans’ hopes of overturning the health care law.
“John McCain killed health care,” said Trump on the White House lawn, adding, “I wasn’t a fan but … I didn’t know a thing about it. I would never have done that.”
In a tweet Wednesday night, Trump denied any knowledge about the attempt to move the ship, which is named for the late senator, as well as his father and grandfather, both of whom were Navy admirals.
I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
In an email obtained by the Wall Street Journal, a U.S. military official ordered that the “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight” when the president visited Yokosuka. A tarp was placed over the ship’s name, and sailors were told to remove coverings that displayed McCain’s name, according to the Journal.
Sailors from the USS John S. McCain were given the day off on Monday, when Trump gave his speech on the USS Wasp. Officials told CNN that sailors were given four days off for Memorial Day weekend and that the number of people invited to the president’s speech was limited due to space on the ship.
Navy officials have denied trying to hide the destroyer’s name.
“The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day,” Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, the Navy’s chief of information, tweeted Wednesday. “The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.”
For years, Trump went out of his way to criticize McCain. In 2015, Trump said McCain was “not a war hero” because he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
But after McCain’s opposition vote in 2017 to full repeal of the ACA, Trump stepped up his attacks. In March, after reports that McCain had given a dossier on Trump’s connections with Russia to the FBI, Trump said McCain had “very evil purposes.”
McCain’s daughter Meghan, a co-host on “The View,” took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticize Trump over reports about the attempt to hide the ship named after her kin.
Trump is 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. So I have to stand up for him.
It makes my grief unbearable. https://t.co/gUbFAla1VE
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) May 30, 2019
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