Donald Trump Issues New Statement On McCain's Death After 2 Days Of Criticism

The president has signed a proclamation that orders flags to be flown at half-staff until the late senator's body is interred.

President Donald Trump on Monday issued a formal statement honoring the late Sen. John McCain following two days of backlash over his initial response to the Republican’s death.

“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,” he said in the statement. 

The White House garnered negative press after people noticed White House flags had returned to full staff on Monday, less than two days after McCain had died.

The White House was operating under a protocol of keeping the flag at half-staff for a day and a half following the death of a sitting member of Congress. Anything beyond that would require a presidential proclamation.

Prior to the statement, Trump had only tweeted his “deepest sympathies and respect” to the McCain family. On Sunday, he turned down the release of an official White House statement that would have celebrated his late Republican colleague as a “hero,” according to The Washington Post.

Trump and the late senator from Arizona had a contentious relationship. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump attacked McCain’s status as a war hero.

President Donald Trump reversed course on Monday, issuing a formal statement honoring the late Sen. John McCain.
President Donald Trump reversed course on Monday, issuing a formal statement honoring the late Sen. John McCain.

While in office, Trump criticized McCain again for voting against a Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year. 

Even in the final weeks of McCain’s life, Trump made his disdain for the senator clear ― failing to mention the war hero during the signing of a defense bill that bore his name. 

The president said Monday that he has asked Vice President Mike Pence to give an address at the ceremony set to honor McCain at the Capitol on Friday.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have reportedly been asked to deliver eulogies. However, Trump will not be invited to McCain’s funeral, at the request of the late senator. 

McCain’s body will be laid to rest Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

This story has been updated with more details about Trump and McCain’s relationship. Hayley Miller and Doha Madani contributed to this report.