Trump was giving a speech focused on the economy at a military tank plant in Lima when he launched into a lengthy criticism of the late war hero. The crowd included members of the military, who remained largely quiet during the comments, according to USA Today.
“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump told the crowd. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get ‘thank you,’ but that’s OK. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”
Trump did not attend McCain’s funeral — a request that reportedly came from the senator’s family. The Washington Post reported that Washington National Cathedral likely approved the senator’s state funeral arrangements, that congressional authorization is needed for lying in state at the Capitol and that Trump had to approve only the military transportation.
The president signed a proclamation ordering that the flags at the White House be lowered to half-staff to honor McCain after his death. Customarily, they remain lowered until a person’s interment, but Trump had the flags raised to full staff after only one day, then returned them to half-staff after a public outcry.
During the speech, the president harped on McCain’s defiance in opposing Trump’s and other Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip health care coverage from millions of Americans. Trump also bashed McCain for turning over to the FBI a copy of the infamous dossier that Christopher Steele compiled on Trump and Russia.
“That’s not the nicest thing to do,” Trump added.
He has long criticized McCain ― even after his death ― and renewed those attacks over the weekend with a series of tweets. McCain’s family, including his daughter Meghan McCain, hit back at the president. Some Republicans reiterated their admiration and respect for McCain but stopped short of calling out the president directly.
Rep. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) broke with his Republican colleagues and criticized Trump, saying in an interview published Wednesday that the country “deserved better” than the president attacking a war hero.