President Donald Trump Addresses His Reaction to Senator John McCain's Death

President Donald Trump defended his reaction to Arizona Sen. John McCain's death, saying he felt he did enough to honor the Republican.

When Bloomberg News asked Trump on Thursday if he lost an opportunity to unite the country, he disagreed.

"No, I don’t think I did at all," Trump replied. “I’ve done everything that they requested and no, I don’t think I have at all. We had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in.”

Trump also refused to say if he believed McCain would have been a better president than President Barack Obama. McCain lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama.

“I don’t want to comment on it. I have a very strong opinion, all right," Trump said, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders standing behind him.

Trump jokingly said Sanders was "having a nervous breakdown" after hearing his response.

"Maybe I’ll give you that answer some day later," he teased.

After McCain's death on Saturday at age 81, Trump's responses have been heavily criticized. The administration's first response was a simple tweet from Trump's Twitter account. The Washington Post reported that Trump refused to release a longer statement, despite calls from Sanders and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

On Monday morning, Trump ordered the U.S. flag on the White House to go back to full-staff, but after the American Legion pressured the administration, the flag was lowered to half-staff at 3:30 p.m.

Trump infamously said he did not believe McCain was a "war hero" because he was caught during the Vietnam War and became a prisoner of war. The president also complained during rallies that McCain used one of his last votes in the Senate to vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Trump was not invited to McCain's memorial service in Washington, D.C. Friday. Instead, Vice President Mike Pence was chosen to speak and represent the administration. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were also asked to speak.

"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 late Monday after the flag was lowered. "At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy."

0comments

McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Kelly and National Security Advisor John Bolton will represent the Trump Administration.

Photo credit: Getty Images