Donald Trump was shamed into returning the White House flag to half staff after offering a lukewarm tribute to John McCain. The petulant president broke with protocol and raised the flag again less than 48 hours after the Arizona senator’s death. But following mounting political pressure from veterans and members of Congress, Trump relented and lowered the flag back to half mast on Monday. In a statement, Trump said: “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honour, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”
Donald Trump was shamed into u-turning on his decision. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday at the age of 81. His death prompted many Americans to lower flags to half-staff, a traditional gesture of honour at the passing of a national leader. But Trump, who had clashed with fellow Republican McCain over various issues and said during his campaign that the senator was “not a war hero,” wavered in his approach to what presidents normally treat as a gesture of courtesy and respect. Senator John McCain lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday aged 81. Trump’s White House lowered its flag on Saturday, then raised it back following the minimum period under law.
Trump also delayed issuing the customary proclamation for flags to remain at half-staff for longer than the two-day minimum. He also blocked a White House statement praising the heroics of McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Trump ordered the White House flag be raised on Monday. He then relented and ordered it be lowered again to half mast. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Chief of Staff John Kelly and others had edited a draft, created before the Senator died. It paid tribute to his service in Asia, where he was shot down and captured. According to US reports, Trump did not want to send out a message calling him a “hero”. Instead, he offered only “sympathies” to the family of McCain. President Donald Trump put a stop to a statement praising the widely respected Senator John McCain.
Trump’s former legal team spokesman Mark Corallo branded his churlish decision to veto the tribute “atrocious”. He said: “At a time like this, you would expect more of an American president when you’re talking about the passing of a true American hero.” Other White House staff, including Sanders, posted eulogies over the weekend to McCain. John McCain RIP But as America mourned the death, Trump played golf in Sterling, Virginia. He later took to Twitter, to brag about himself, posting: “Over 90% approval rating for your all-time favourite (I hope) president within the Republican Party.” Throughout the final years of McCain’s life Trump took constant snipes at the Arizona Senator. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel Play now He had a pop at the veteran’s military record, despite avoiding draft himself. Trump said: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”