President Donald Trump met with Senate Republicans at their weekly lunch but no one brought up their ailing colleague John McCain despite an ongoing spat over a White House aide’s comment about the Arizona Republican.
Republicans gave several reasons why the topic didn’t come up – including that Trump spoke for almost all of the meeting, just taking two or three questions.
‘We kind of ran out of time,’ said Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. ‘I don’t know that I would have even if I’d have had the time. We wanted to hear from the president and he spoke and covered an enormous array of topics,’ he said.
It was the first meeting between Republicans and Trump since White House aide Kelly Sadler remarked on McCain’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel by saying it didn’t matter because ‘he’s dying anyway.’
Senate Republicans say Trump spoke through most of their meeting and just two or three of them asked questions
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chair of the conference, also cited the timing as the reason nobody stood up for McCain in the meeting.
‘The president talked most of the time,’ Thune told DailyMail.com. ‘We had a couple questions at the end. But it was mostly the economy and foreign policy.’
Nor did senators raise other hot topics – such as the rule of law and Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, the Stormy Daniels scandal, or the FBI raid on longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
‘There were only two questions. We let the president talk. There might’ve been two, maybe three,’ said Kennedy.
The senators all spoke on the second floor of the Capitol, in hallways McCain has strode for years, where in addition to representing Arizona he has made a career of occasionally provoking his own party and presidents of both parties on issues he holds dear.
Senators say no one brought up Sen. John McCain, who is battling terminal brain cancer
Trump instead talked about North Korea, Iran, trade, and other issues, with discussions on the upcoming midterm elections where he introduced the GOP candidate in Indiana.
‘He talked mostly and he talked about a lot of his accomplishments. A lot of other things. He had a lot of humor,’ said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.
President Donald Trump, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, updates reporters on the condition of first lady Melania Trump as they walk to a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
President Donald Trump, right, speaks while walking with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, before attending the weekly Senate luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
‘I’m not afraid of the president. I like the president,’ Kennedy told DailyMail.com. ‘I mean he can’t eat me and he can’t kill me. I’m not afraid of anybody that can’t eat me or kill me.’
Kennedy wouldn’t even criticize the food that was served. ‘We had some kind of mystery meat – I mean it was good,’ he backtracked. ‘But it was a cross between meat and bacon. And we had chicken. And we had salad.’
The White House has refused to publicly apologize, nor has Sadler, although she called McCain’s family members after the remark. Instead, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and her subordinates have gone after whoever leaked the comment out of a closed White House meeting. Trump has also gone after leakers on Twitter since the incident.
Trump met with Republicans after attending a memorial to police officers
The only people who asked Trump about McCain, who is at home in Arizona dealing with his cancer treatments and the effects, were reporters gathered outside, although the president ignored questions.
Even as Trump avoided the issue, two Senate Democrats, Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, announced they would support Haspel’s nomination.
McCain announced from Arizona after Haspel’s confirmation hearing that he would oppose her, citing her role running a secret CIA prison in Thailand after Sep. 11th.
‘Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,’ McCain said.