Senate Republicans don’t press Trump on McCain insult during meeting
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Despite some Senate Republicans expressing anger over a derogatory comment made by a White House aide about their colleague, GOP Sen. John McCain, they didn’t raise the issue with President Donald Trump during a luncheon Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
“No, the issue didn’t come up,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said when reporters pressed him on whether he encouraged the president to urge the staffer to apologize.
“Well, the person who said that should apologize and should apologize publicly,” McConnell said.
“The president was in a very good mood, and really quite funny,” McConnell said on the overall tone of the meeting.
GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said it wasn’t the right time or place to raise the issue with Trump.
“This wasn’t that kind of meeting,” Kennedy said. “I think the comments were rude, crude and unconscionable. And I think the staffer ought to apologize and the administration ought to apologize. But this was not that kind of meeting.”
Earlier, on his way into the luncheon, Trump ignored a reporter’s question asking if he were going to apologize to McCain.
Last week, White House aide Kelly Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the next CIA Director didn’t matter because he’s “dying anyway,” multiple White House officials confirmed to ABC News.
Sadler has still not apologized publicly.
The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, said on ABC’s “The View” that she asked Sadler to publicly apologize and she agreed to it, but “I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come.”
Senate Republicans have been openly fuming about Sadler’s comment.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that McCain’s family is owed respect and an apology.
“If I had said that, I would apologize,” Grassley said.
McCain’s closest ally in the Senate – GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – called the comment “disgusting.”
“It’s [a] pretty disgusting thing to say, if it was a joke, it was a terrible joke,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate, that’s not who we are in the Trump administration.”
When was asked if President Trump should apologize for the comment: “I’ll leave that up to him, but if something happened like that in my office — somebody in my office said such a, such a thing about somebody, I would apologize on behalf of the office,” Graham said.
GOP Rep. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska tweeted on Sunday: “As to the White House official who offered such an insult, she should show some respect and apologize.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the controversy from the Senate floor on Monday. He mounted an impassioned defense of McCain and called him a “genuine American hero.”
“We had some laughs and even reminisced about the battles; sometimes we were on the same side, and sometimes we weren’t,” McConnell said. “But one thing about our colleague, John McCain — you’d rather be on his side than not.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan praised McCain’s legacy in a pre-taped interview with HLN last week, and said McCain is a “hero” who has helped “save our military.”
“His legacy is so long that John McCain is a hero to us and John McCain all of our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family right now at this time,” Ryan said.
Multiple White House officials told ABC News that press secretary Sarah Sanders scolded her press and communications team on Friday morning for the leak. Sanders called the comment “unacceptable,” senior White House officials confirmed. Sadler, who was at the meeting, did not apologize to her colleagues for the comment.
A senior White House official told ABC News they don’t expect Sadler will be fired.
“She had no intent. She said something she shouldn’t have said and apologized to the family right away,” according to a White House official.
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