The Washington National Cathedral is fighting back against President Donald Trump’s assertion that he had to approve the funeral arrangements for Sen. John McCain, one eyebrow-raising comment in his latest string of jabs against the late Arizona lawmaker.
“Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Sen. John McCain. All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials,” a cathedral spokesperson told HuffPost on Thursday. “No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official.”
On Wednesday, Trump claimed that he was not thanked for signing off on the funeral arrangements for the Republican senator, who died in August 2018.
“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump told a crowd at an Ohio military tank plant on Wednesday. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get thank you, that’s OK. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”
McCain died from brain cancer at the age of 81 in his home state of Arizona after a long career in public service. In addition to his funeral at the Episcopal cathedral, which Trump was not invited to, the former prisoner of war lay in state in the Arizona Capitol and the United States Capitol. His family buried him in the cemetery of the U.S. Naval Academy, his alma mater in Annapolis, Maryland.
Lying in state at the U.S. Capitol requires congressional authorization, but not presidential authorization. In reality, Trump only gave approval for the use of military transportation to bring McCain’s body back to Washington.
At the time of McCain’s death, the president also signed a proclamation ordering that flags at the White House fly at half-staff to honor the late senator. Flags usually remain at half-staff until the person’s interment, but Trump raised them up after just a day ― and then lowered them again after public outrage.
Trump’s comments in Ohio came just days after his renewed Twitter attacks on the dead senator, which isn’t new behavior for a president who has long criticized McCain. The president bashed the Vietnam War veteran for his role in killing a GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He also falsely accused McCain of “spreading” to the media the Steele dossier, which reports allegations of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.