A White House official has dismissed Senator John McCain’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s pick to head the CIA, saying, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” The 81-year-old Republican senator from Arizona is battling brain cancer.
Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House communications office, is reported to have made the comment Thursday in a White House communications staff meeting.
Two people who attended the closed-door meeting and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said they felt “shocked and stunned” by the remark. The remarks have been confirmed by other media outlets.
White House statement
The White House did not deny the remark. It issued a statement saying, “We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
Thursday evening after Sadler’s remarks were reported, McCain’s wife, Cindy, posted on Twitter: “May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.”
McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, issued a statement Wednesday urging the Senate to vote against Gina Haspel for CIA director. He said he believes Haspel is a patriot, but “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”
McCain returned to Arizona in December after receiving a diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
McCain and Trump have a troubled relationship.
During the presidential election campaign, Trump said of McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
McCain famously returned to Washington from Arizona last year to cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care repeal.
Trump later told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “except for one senator, who came into a room at three o’clock in the morning and went like that” — Trump gave a thumbs-down — “we would have had health care (reform), too.”
The crowd booed and Trump added, “I won’t use his name.”