WASHINGTON: US flags at the White House returned to full staff yesterday morning as the nation continued to mourn the death of Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona.
The flags were lowered on Saturday night following McCain’s death from brain cancer, but President Donald Trump did not issue a proclamation that typically calls for flags to remain at half staff throughout the day of interment.
There are plans for McCain, a former Navy pilot, to be buried on Sunday in the cemetery on the grounds of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Karen Travers tweeted: “Flags at the White House were lowered to half staff this weekend for the passing of John McCain, but this morning they are back to full staff.
“There was no official proclamation from President Trump (as he has done in the past for other notable figures passing).”
Flags at the US Capitol, where he served two terms in the House and six terms in the Senate, remained at half staff yesterday morning.
Trump and McCain had a bitter relationship that lasted through McCain’s final days.
Following the senator’s death, Trump posted a tweet that offered his “deepest sympathies and respect” to McCain’s family, but made no mention of McCain’s storied service in the military and in the Senate.
The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Trump had rejected the advice of top aides, who advocated for an official statement that gave the decorated Vietnam War prisoner of war plaudits for his military and Senate service and called him a “hero”.
Marc Short, Trump’s former legislative director, said the president faced “a little bit of a situation of a catch 22”, when deciding how to respond to McCain’s death.
“If the president put out a flowery statement about John McCain’s life, the media would criticise it and say it’s not consistent with the other things he’s said in the past, and it would become a story about the president,” Short said on CNN.
Short said he personally considers McCain “an American hero who served our country nobly”.
Throughout McCain’s illness, Trump continued to publicly snub him - including at a recent appearance in which the president declined to say McCain’s name when signing a bill that was named after him.
Trump earlier disparaged McCain’s Vietnam War service, saying he was “not a war hero”, despite spending more than five years as a POW and enduring torture.
McCain’s plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, McCain did not hesitate to speak candidly about policy differences with Trump, including the president’s friendly posture towards Russian President Vladimir Putin. - The Washington Post/African News Agency (ANA)