Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appears to be giving the thumbs-down on President Donald Trump attending his funeral.
According to the New York Times on Saturday, members of the ailing maverick’s inner circle “have informed the White House that their current plan for his funeral is for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the service to be held in Washington’s National Cathedral but not President Trump.”
The report comes as McCain — who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in July 2017 — appears to be in worsening health. He has been increasingly frail in recent months, according to reports, and was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix in April for surgery to treat “intestinal infection related to diverticulitis.” On Friday, his daughter — the commentator Meghan McCain — tweeted that she would be taking a brief leave from the View and would be “going home to Arizona to be with my family.”
“Thank you all again for your prayers, patience, understanding and compassion during this time,” she tweeted. “It means the world to me and my entire family.”
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said in an appearance at the Family Leadership Summit in 2015. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump has also bashed McCain for his July 2017 vote against the Republicans’ “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act — which he delivered in a dramatic thumbs-down vote late in the night, killing the Senate Republicans’ bill.
“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves,” Trump tweeted in September. “Let Arizona down!”
McCain, for his part, has frequently called out the president, and apparently makes his case against Trump and his vision of America in his final memoir, which comes out later this month.
As the Times notes, McCain’s controversial choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate in 2008 is believed by some to have helped lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise to power. In his memoir and an accompanying documentary, according to the Times, he expresses regret for having chosen the ex-Alaska governor instead of Joseph Lieberman — the Connecticut independent who served as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 and is one of McCain’s closest friends.
McCain’s would not be the only funeral of a high-profile political figure to be skipped by Trump; in April, Melania Trump attended former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral in the president’s absence. Trump golfed at his Mar-a-Lago resort instead to “avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service.”
McCain is “still in the fight,” the Times reported Saturday, but prominent friends from the political world have been visiting with him in recent weeks, “telling him they love him, how much he has meant to them — and together they are taking care of unfinished business.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a friend of the senator’s, visited him last week, talking with the larger-than-life Republican outside on the deck of his Arizona ranch.
“I wanted to let him know how much I love him and how much he matters to me and how much I admire his integrity and his courage,” Biden told the Times. “I wanted to see my friend.”