Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to revisit his criticism of McCain after Fox News reported on newly unsealed court documents which shed light on McCain’s role in sharing the so-called Steele Dossier — which alleged that Russia had compromising information on Trump — with the FBI and news media.
Trump seized on a quote from former independent counsel Ken Starr, who told Fox News that McCain’s role in spreading the dossier was a “very dark stain” against the Vietnam War veteran.
“He had far worse ‘stains’ than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaign to repeal and replace!” Trump tweeted on Saturday, referring to McCain’s dramatic thumbs-down vote against the Republican attempt to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama’s health-care law.
WATCH: McCain votes no on repealing Obamacare (July 28, 2017)
The tweet prompted a response from McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain, who told Trump that he would never be loved by people the way her father was.
“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father,” Meghan McCain tweeted.
However, the riposte failed to silence Trump, who resumed his attacks on the late Sen. McCain on Sunday.
Trump slammed McCain for sending the “fake dossier” to the FBI and news organizations, accusing him of collaborating with Democrats to sabotage his election prospects.
He also derided McCain’s academic record at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., from where he graduated fifth from bottom in his class rank in 1958.
WATCH: Sen. John McCain’s casket arrives at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis (Sept. 2, 2018)
“So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) ‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election,” Trump tweeted. “He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!”
It’s not the first time Trump used the phrase “last in his class” to mock McCain. He previously did so in July 2015.
Despite his poor academic record at the Naval Academy, McCain is one of its most celebrated alumni and was buried at the academy’s cemetery in Annapolis on Sept. 2, 2018.
Trump’s Sunday tweet prompted a flurry of responses from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Mark Salter, who served as a speechwriter and chief of staff for McCain, replied with a tweet of his own in which he said Trump would forever remain in McCain’s shadow.
“Here is what will never change,” Mr. Salter tweeted. “John McCain will always be a better man than you in every way we measure a man’s character. You’ll never beat him.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close friend of McCain’s, also issued tweets in his defence.
“He stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body,” Graham tweeted.
“Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished.”
WATCH: Sen. Lindsey Graham bids tearful goodbye to John McCain on senate floor
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential election, slammed Trump’s “outrageous” comments.
For her part, Meghan McCain responded by posting a tweet which read, “My father lives rent free in your head.” The tweet was later deleted.
The co-host of The View later retweeted several posts by others critical of Trump’s remarks.
“John McCain haunts the Trump White House, not because of his votes or policy disagreements, but because he represents the man that Donald Trump cannot ever be,” read one tweet, which quoted from a May 2018 article in the Weekly Standard.
“When we were in Hanoi, the summit was within walking distance of the Hanoi Hilton, where John McCain and others spent years as a tortured prisoner,” read another tweet posted by the Washington Post’s White House correspondent Josh Dawsey. “Trump did not visit or commemorate the war.”