Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said the fraught relationship between Sen. John McCain and President Donald Trump is what prompted the White House’s bungled response to lowering flags in McCain’s honor.
“Well, you know, frankly, I think that John McCain is partially to blame for that because he is very outspoken,” Inhofe said. “He disagreed with the president in certain areas and wasn’t too courteous about it.”
Flags at the White House were lowered to half-staff after McCain’s death on Saturday and returned to full staff early Monday morning.
The slight did not go unnoticed, and Trump later signed a proclamation ordering flags to be lowered, and issued a longer statement on Monday, praising McCain’s service and sacrifice.
Trump initially tweeted his condolences to the McCain family on Saturday and offered no further official statement until Monday.
Federal code only requires the flag to be flown at half-staff “on the day of death and following day” for a member of Congress. But traditionally, US presidents have signed proclamations for flags to remain at half-staff until a prominent US official is buried — McCain is expected to be buried at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday.
The feud between Trump and McCain was fueled in part by Trump’s previous comments in which he downplayed McCain’s military service and criticized a Gold Star family during the 2016 presidential campaign.
McCain served in the Vietnam War, was captured, and held prisoner in Hanoi for five and a half years.
“He is a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said in 2015. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.” Trump took a similar jab at McCain back in January 2000, during the Arizona senator’s first run for president.
Inhofe, a staunch Trump supporter, is expected to replace McCain as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.