In a statement to NBC News published Saturday, Chief of Information Rear Adm. Charlie Brown noted that despite the request, the ship stayed put.
“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” he said.
Furthermore, Brown assured that there were “no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain.” The ship is the namesake of the late Arizona senator, who had a contentious relationship with Trump, as well as McCain’s father and grandfather.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that sailors from the McCain were not invited to hear Trump’s speech aboard another ship; however, other sailors were.
“USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,” the email stated, listing the item as one of three in the note. “Please confirm #3 will be satisfied.”
After the reports surfaced, Brown tweeted that the ship “was not obscured” during Trump’s Memorial Day visit to Yokosuka.
“The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage,” the tweet read.
Reacting to news of the request, Trump tweeted that he knew nothing about the message:
On Thursday, Trump doubled down on his previous remarks while speaking to reporters outside the White House.
Asked whether he felt it was fair to the ship’s sailors that they were barred from listening to the president speak during his visit ― something Brown stated did not occur intentionally ― Trump said he was unaware of what happened.
“I wasn’t involved,” he said. “I would not have done that.”
Trump then took several shots at McCain, reiterating his criticisms of the late senator.
“I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care,” Trump said. “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.”
Circling back on his self-defense, Trump again stressed that he was not to blame.
“To me, John McCain — I wasn’t a fan,” he said. “But I would never do a thing like that. Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.”