President Donald Trump continues to disparage Senator John McCain even after a White House aide made a crude joke about the cancer-stricken Arizona lawmaker ‘dying anyway’.
Trump remains upset with McCain over his opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director as well as his decisive vote last year which sunk the Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare.
The president has ‘privately groused’ to friends about McCain, whom he considers ‘an unhelpful pest,’ according to Politico.
The news site also reported that a number of Republican senators are angry at the White House over its handling of the Kelly 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.
President Donald Trump continues to disparage Senator John McCain even after a White House aide made a crude joke about the cancer-stricken Arizona lawmaker ‘dying anyway,’ it has been reported
Trump remains upset with McCain over his opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director as well as his decisive vote last year to sink the Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare. McCain is seen last December after undergoing surgery
While Trump blasted disloyal staffers, 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.
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 further when it appeared the White House was more upset that Sadler’s joke was leaked while not caring as much about the content of 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 before leaving to visit first lady Melania at Walter Reed Medical Center.
‘With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!’
Mrs. Trump was hospitalized Monday following a kidney procedure to address what her spokeswoman referred to as a ‘benign’ medical condition.
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
Schlapp’s wife, too, told fellow White House communications aides that she stands with the callous Kellly Sadler
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.’
There was discomfort in the room after Sadler made light of McCain’s diagnosis during a communications staff meeting on Thursday, but on Friday senior staff member Mercedes Schlapp said she supported the aide
‘The View’ co-host Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, marveled on Friday that Sadler has been allowed to keep her White House position
A third described her in fawning terms: ‘Sarah cares so much about the team, the cause, this country and this President [sic]. Sarah did absolutely the right thing in condemning the remark but also condemning the selfish action.’
Aides in the White House press office universally write the word ‘president’ with an upper-case ‘P,’ even when Donald Trump’s name doesn’t follow it.
McCain has begun to talk publicly about his wishes for his funeral. He has pointedly said he doesn’t want President Trump to attend.
Sadler has yet to comment about her flippant jab at McCain but she called to offer an apology to his daughter Meghan – who says she was promised a public ‘sorry’ but isn’t holding her breath for one.