A White House official has mocked Senator John McCain’s health his opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, according to a new report.
The Hill reported on Thursday that White House special assistant Kelly Sadler mocked McCain in a closed-door meeting on the same day.
McCain, a veteran of the Vietnam War and Republican senator of Arizona who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, has urged his fellow Republicans to oppose Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said in the Thursday meeting, referring to McCain and his opposition to Haspel, according to The Hill.
Sadler is responsible at the White House for preparing press releases on illegal immigration and sending them out to reporters. About two dozen communications staffers were present in the meeting where she spoke about McCain.
The Hill said the comment caused “discomfort” in the room. It cited another source as saying that Sadler later called the senator’s daughter, Meghan, to apologize.
Soon after the report of the derisive remark came out, McCain’s wife, Cindy, tweeted, “@kellysadler45 May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.”
The Republican senator is vocal critic of Trump, who ran on the Republican Party’s ticket for presidency. Early into his candidacy, Trump questioned McCain’s credentials as a “hero” in the Vietnam War, during which McCain served time as a POW.
“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said in July 2015, in remarks that also caused discomfort among many Americans at the time.
McCain has opposed Trump’s CIA director nominee Haspel because “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” He made the remark in a statement after her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, calling on fellow Republicans to oppose her.
Haspel would lose the job if she loses the Republican support she has currently.
The New York Times reported last week that the senator’s family would not invite President Trump to McCain’s funeral. It said McCain allies had informed the White House that Vice President Mike Pence would instead be asked to attend.