After criticism, White House flag at half-staff on John McCain's death
30 August, 2018, 20:43 | Author: Rachel Logan
The episode was the latest involving Trump and the powerful symbolism of the American flag.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sent a joint letter to the Department of Defense on Sunday requesting that flags "at all government buildings and installations" remain at half-staff through McCain's burial on Sunday.
When Sen. Ted Kennedy died in 2009, President Barack Obama ordered the flag to remain at half-staff for four full days, CBS News reported at the time. Congressional aides said they expect that the tribute there will continue.
The Stars and Stripes were briefly lowered to half-staff over the weekend, then went back up to full height on Monday while flags at the US Capitol and elsewhere stayed at half-staff. Trump tweeted Saturday evening, offering no words of praise for the late political titan.
On Capitol Hill, his desk on the Senate floor was draped with a black cloth, and adorned with white roses.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The absence of a formal communique from the White House has raised eyebrows and was all the more conspicuous after Vice President Mike Pence along with most of the cabinet, press secretary Sarah Sanders and all the living former presidents had issued their own statements over the weekend. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter: "The White House is now an island of bitterness and resentment in a nation united in respect and appreciation".
The American Legion issued a sternly worded statement calling on Trump to treat McCain with more reverence. "Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment", said President Trump. The aide told colleagues they should disregard McCain's opposition to Trump's Central Intelligence Agency nominee because "he's dying anyway". "On behalf of The American Legion's two million wartime veterans, I strongly urge you to make an appropriate presidential proclamation noting Senator McCain's death and legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation's flag be half-staffed through his internment". Trump has said that McCain, who spent more than five years as a POW in Vietnam, was "not a war hero" and continued to snub the longtime senator throughout his battle with brain cancer. John McCain, are back at full-staff.
The White House issued a statement on re-lowering of the flag and some details of how the Trump administration will pay tribute to Sen. "Everyone knows we don't like each other", the president said, according to one senior White House official.
In the letter, McCain did not name Trump but called on Americans to rally behind the country's founding principles rather than hiding behind walls and succumbing to political tribalism.
McCain was one of Trump's sharpest critics, and made clear in one of his final wishes as he struggled with brain cancer that he did not want the president to attend his funeral. McCain's plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 during a bombing run.
Parts of it could be interpreted as taking aim at President Trump's policies. "I think it's actually respectful of the president to give it space and distance and to allow the family its opportunity to celebrate John McCain's life". He was silent later when reporters tried again during a meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
By day's end, Trump had done just that, with no immediate explanation from the White House.
Trump praised former National Football League running back Jim Brown for having said he plans to support Trump's reelection in 2020. An aide also confirmed that Trump would not attend the lawmaker's funeral, after media reports earlier this year said the senator had expressly asked that Trump not be invited.
And in what could be viewed as a subtle slap at Trump, the Canadian Embassy in Washington also posted a picture showing that it had lowered its flag to honor McCain.
Mr Trump said vice president Mike Pence would speak at a remembrance ceremony on Friday at the US Capitol. McCain's colleagues in the Senate from both sides of the aisle called on Trump to lower the flag.
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