The White House returned flags to half-staff after Trump was criticized for perceived snubs of the late senator.
President Donald Trump on Monday grabbed a piece of the spotlight back from the late Sen. John McCain, creating a familiar will-he-or-won’t-he narrative that ended with the White House formally ordering flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance.
An all-day outcry over the White House decision to raise the flags was finally resolved with a statement attributed to the president himself expressing “respect” for McCain’s service and announcing that he’d signed a proclamation ordering flags lowered until McCain is interred later this week.
The back and forth mirrored Trump’s actions over the weekend. He maintained steadfast silence on Friday, as Republicans and Democrats alike rushed to celebrate the longtime Arizona Republican senator after an announcement from his office that he was ending cancer treatment. The president remained quiet, finally tweeting a condolence Saturday after McCain’s death was announced.
The moves were emblematic of Trump’s strained relationship with McCain, a former GOP standard-bearer who identified as a Republican maverick long before Trump arrived on the scene with his own unique brand of iconoclastic politics.
“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
McCain, a celebrated war hero and two-time presidential candidate, died late Saturday afternoon in his home state of Arizona after a battle with brain cancer.