Washington (CNN)White House aides drafted a fulsome statement for President Donald Trump on the death of Sen. John McCain, but it was never sent out, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN.
Several staff members believed the official White House statement, which went through an internal approval process, would be released at the time of the Arizona Republican’s death, which occurred on Saturday. But as the President spent Sunday at his Virginia golf course, the statement never went out, the source said.
White House aides did not make plans for a televised statement on McCain’s passing, which would have been routine under similar circumstances in other recent presidencies.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Trump went against the advice of senior aides to issue an official White House statement praising McCain for his heroism and decades of service, telling aides he instead wanted to post a brief tweet.
Trump’s tweet Saturday night did not mention his military or Senate service or include any praise for the late Arizona Republican.
It’s actually possible to not like McCain in a principled way. As a staunch Reagan Republican he was an ardent hawk and a good friend of pro-US authoritarians abroad; he elevated Sarah Palin to a risible height (arguably paving the way for Trump); and in general, was much less of a maverick than the media that he flattered so assiduously gave him credit for. But Trump isn’t principled. He’s as petty as a 15-year-old mean girl. If McCain had just said “nice” things about him once in a while (instead of just voting for all of his policies but healthcare that one very dramatic and memorable time), Trump would be happy to jump on the grief bandwagon too.
I still believe that this is a terrible world, but that it is filled with decent people. Am I wrong? Do enough Americans resonate with Trump’s shallowness, stupidity, mean-spiritedness, ignorance, and racism to keep him in power? Can the Democrats, as divided and wishy-washy and compromised as they are, turn out enough voters to overcome the Republican firewall of gerrymandering and voter suppression this fall?
Trump is so vindictive and so impulsive that he can’t even put on a sad face for McCain’s death for 24 hours. Can he possibly get through the next two months without firing Mueller, pardoning Manafort, and perpetrating some new horror on the world? And will those things hurt him or help him? I honestly don’t know. Trumpism has made me rethink just about everything I thought I knew about politics.