Monday, May 28, 2018

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Trump blames ‘so-called leaks’ for aide’s morbid joke about McCain

White House still has not apologized for 'he’s dying anyway' comment

  • McCain-3

    FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a closed-door session where Republican senators met on the GOP effort to overhaul the tax code, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    Associated Press

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump tried to take the heat off a scandal-scarred White House official Monday, scorning “so-called leaks” instead of addressing the aide’s insensitive joke about Sen. John McCain.

“The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible,” Trump tweeted.

Trump warned that the “leakers” in the very same tweet that he will “find out who they are!”

“Leakers are traitor and cowards,” the president fired.

The Twitter missive came in the wake of damning news reports about Trump special assistant Kelly Sadler.

Sadler drew the ire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle after she was quoted as having joked about McCain’s opposition to Trump’s CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, who played a role in the agency’s controversial post-9/11 torture program.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler quipped about the brain cancer-stricken Arizona Republican during a closed-door staff sit-down on Thursday, drawing gasps — and a few laughs — from attendants.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah confirmed during a tense back-and-forth with reporters Monday afternoon that Sadler had apologized to McCain’s daughter, Meghan.

But Shah refused to apologize on behalf of the entire White House, only saying the situation “has been dealt with internally.” He also took a jab at colleagues who pass information to reporters.

“If you aren’t able in internal meetings to speak your mind or convey thoughts or say anything that you feel without feeling like your colleagues will betray you, that creates a very difficult work environment,” Shah said.

McCain, 81, a former Navy pilot who was tortured and imprisoned for 5½ years during the Vietnam War, has battled brain cancer since last summer.

Trump, who never served in the military, infamously attacked McCain during the campaign, questioning his “war hero” moniker.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump, who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, said at the time. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Tribune News Service

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