A CNN talking-head known for her fiery tirades against President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that the White House is ‘irritated’ that Sen. John McCain is still alive to pester him.
It’s unclear whether McCain, an 81-year-old Republican suffering from brain cancer, will return to the U.S. Senate to cast a critical vote on the confirmation of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency.
But he’s been swinging at the White House for nominating her despite her past participation in interrogation programs now considered forms of torture.
‘I think, frankly, what’s happening here is that the White House is irritated that John McCain is not dying of cancer,’ political strategist Ana Navarro said on the ‘New Day’ program. ‘He’s living with cancer.’
‘And he is choosing to make every single day on this earth something that’s meaningful and counts. And he is still confronting Donald Trump for his outrageous – he is still speaking conscience and conviction and principle, and reminding Republicans what we used to be,’ she said.
Anti-Trump political talking-head Ana Navarro (left) said Tuesday on CNN that the White House is upset that John McCain hasn’t died of cancer yet
McCain, an 81-year-old Republican, opposes Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to run the CIA
The president has appeared more annoyed with press leaks lately than with the substance of the leaks, including one aide’s comment that McCain’s Senate votes don’t matter because ‘he’s dying anyway’
Navarro has said she voted ‘against Trump.’ During the 2016 campaign she branded him a ‘misogynist, racist, vulgar, lying, ignorant madman’ who ‘breathes like Darth Vader.’
‘Brussels sprouts and lice are more popular,’ Navarro once said of the president she sees as a ‘crazy, lunatic, 70-year-old man-baby.’
Trump has continued to disparage McCain, even after White House aide Kelly Sadler made a crude joke about his lack of influence in Washington because he’s on his deathbed.
Trump remains upset with McCain over his opposition to Haspel’s nomination and his decisive vote last year that sunk a Republican-led effort to repeal the Obamacare law.
The president has ‘privately groused’ to friends about McCain, whom he considers ‘an unhelpful pest,’ according to Politico.
Some Republican senators are angry at the White House over its handling of the Sadler controversy.
Sadler, a mid-level communications aide, reportedly told colleagues in a closed-door meeting that they shouldn’t worry about whether McCain disapproves of Haspel, because ‘he’s dying anyway’ – a suggestion that he’s too ill to cast a vote in person.
McCain also roused Trump’s ire with a last-minute vote that sank a Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare
While Trump blasted disloyal staffers on Monday, he also claimed much of the dirt they dish is false, and exaggerated by reporters in order to paint him falsely in a bad light
The blowback was ferocious and bipartisan, with elected officials calling alternatively for public apologies and Sadler’s head on a platter.
McCain, a Senate institution and a Vietnam-era war hero, is recovering from brain cancer surgery in his native Arizona.
The Politico report suggests that Sadler was simply taking a cue from her boss, Trump, who during the campaign publicly insulted McCain by saying he wasn’t a war hero because ‘he was captured.’
White House communications aide Kelly Sadler still has her job despite mocking McCain’s battle with cancer during a staff meeting – a detail that was promptly leaked by someone who was in the room
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed Friday, and again Monday, that Sadler still has her job.
Critics were outraged that the White House appeared upset that Sadler’s joke was leaked, but indifferent to what she said.
Trump tried to lay down the law Monday on aides who leak information to reporters from inside the White House, calling them ‘traitors and cowards’ whose days as administration employees are numbered.
At the same time, the president downplayed the validity of the leaks themselves – and made no move to apologize for Sadler’s insult.
‘The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible,’ Trump tweeted.
‘With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!’
The Trump administration has been unusually porous from Day One, cycling through different centers of gravity among White House leakers.
American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp (left) defended Sadler on Monday, painting her as a quasi-‘victim’ of malicious leaks
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union – whose wife is a senior Trump communications aide – is among Sadler’s few defenders in public.
‘She’s … a little bit of a victim here,’ Schlapp said Monday on CNN, equating her to a casualty in a war of anonymous leaks.
‘None of us were in that room. And the people who leaked what she said are clearly people who have an animus against her.’
Schlapp’s wife Mercedes told a similar meeting on Friday that ‘[y]ou can put this on the record… I stand with Kelly Sadler,’ according to a leaker to Axios who framed Mrs. Schlapp as an unapologetic defender of the politically indefensible.
Another source provided the news website with a glowing review of Sarah Sanders’ crisis management.
‘I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too,’ Sanders said, according to a second West Wing blabbermouth. ‘And that’s just disgusting.’