White House tried to hide USS John McCain’s name during Donald Trump’s visit to Japan: reports
The White House took steps to have the name of the warship USS John McCain obscured during a visit to Japan by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has never hidden his contempt for the late senator, reports said Wednesday.
The Navy, however, tweeted that the ship’s name wasn’t hidden during Trump’s visit to Yokosuka Naval Base, which is located just south of Yokohama.
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The Wall Street Journal reported on an email that a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official sent to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials following discussions with the White House Military Office and the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
That email, outlining plans for the president’s visit, included the following directive: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.”
An anonymous U.S. official told the Journal that Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan knew there was concern about the USS John McCain.
The acting secretary took steps to make sure there was no conflict when the president visited the base, the official said.
A separate official speaking with the Journal said the U.S. military had discussed how to deal with the warship during Trump’s visit.
Photos seen by the newspaper reportedly showed a tarp being placed over the USS John McCain’s name; sailors who wear caps displaying the ship’s name reportedly had the day off.
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The Washington Post quoted a senior Navy official confirming his knowledge that someone from the White House had sent a message asking that the USS John McCain be excluded from any pictures when Trump visited.
Pictures subsequently captured the warship with a tarp covering its name, the official told the newspaper.
The Post went on to say that Navy officials instructed personnel to stop doing this when they figured out what was going on.
Trump tweeted that he was “not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan.”
The Navy, meanwhile, tweeted that the “name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day.
“The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.”
The report upset Meghan McCain, the late senator’s daughter, who tweeted, “Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dad’s incredible life.
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“There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him.”
Trump and McCain had an adversarial relationship going back at least to the 2016 presidential campaign, when the eventual Republican nominee belittled the Arizona senator’s military record, saying he’s “not a war hero” after he was tortured as a prisoner for over five years during the Vietnam War.
Their relationship deteriorated further in 2017, when McCain voted down the repeal of a health care law, a key item on Trump’s legislative agenda.
He died of brain cancer in 2018.
McCain’s death has not stopped Trump from criticizing him, however.
The president complained in March that he was never thanked for McCain’s funeral in Washington.
“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted,” Trump said in Lima, Ohio.
“I didn’t get (a) thank you but that’s OK.”
— With files from The Associated Press
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