UPDATE: 4:40 p.m. ― President Donald Trump said in a statement Monday afternoon that he had ordered the White House flag to be flown at half-staff until Sen. John McCain is interred this weekend.
After backlash over his initial response to McCain’s death, he also issued a formal statement in tribute to the late senator, saying he respected his “service to our country.”
White House flags returned to full staff on Monday after a brief tribute to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who died less than two days earlier.
Meanwhile, flags remained lowered at the U.S. Capitol building, just 2 miles east of the president’s official residence and workplace. The buildings had lowered their flags Saturday evening following McCain’s death.
Two of Washington’s great landmarks are showing something different this morning:
-All flags at the U.S. Capitol are flying at half staff in honor of the late Senator John McCain.
-The White house flags are now at full staff after they were lowered over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/FNHJSi2GBf
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 27, 2018
The White House was operating under a protocol of keeping the flag at half-staff for a day and a half following the death of a sitting member of Congress. Anything beyond that would require a presidential proclamation ― a relatively simple order to draft but one that President Donald Trump does not appear to have much interest in.
Presidents typically issue a proclamation when a high-profile figure dies, ordering all public buildings and military bases to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until the day of interment. Trump did not issue a proclamation for McCain, whose body will be laid to rest Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who controls the Capitol’s flags, told HuffPost in an email Monday that the flags “will remain lowered through the day of internment (sic).”
“President Trump didn’t respond to any shouted questions about McCain or others” when approached by reporters Monday morning, according to a White House pool report.
Trump has done little to hide his disdain for McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee and decorated Vietnam veteran. He infamously mocked McCain’s military record at a political forum in Iowa in the summer of 2015, soon after announcing his bid for president. Trump suggested McCain wasn’t a “war hero” because he had been “captured” during the Vietnam War. McCain was held in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war for over five years after his plane was shot down while he was flying a bombing mission over Hanoi.
McCain’s rebuttals were often more measured than Trump’s brash rhetoric. But he frequently criticized the president’s policies and tone, taking aim at Trump’s friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and famously sinking legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He reportedly disinvited Trump to his funeral.
Despite an outpouring of tributes from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Trump tweeted a curt statement Sunday expressing his “deepest sympathies and respect” to McCain’s family. His tweet was met with fierce backlash from veterans and media pundits, including Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume.
“Still not a kind word about McCain himself,” Hume tweeted about Trump’s statement.
Other Twitter users slammed Trump for using a picture of himself in his Instagram post about McCain’s death.
Trump’s apparent refusal to honor McCain with the White House flags didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter either.
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.
The easiest way to reconcile Trump bitching about NFL players “disrespecting the flag” with his refusal to dip the WH flag for McCain or the slaughtered in Jacksonville is by positing that Trump believes he is the flag, and the flag is him
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) August 27, 2018
If you’re surprised at all that the Trump White House would do the absolute bare minimum required by law when it comes to the flag being lowered to honor Senator McCain, you clearly have no concept of the kind of petty man that sits in the Oval Office.
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) August 27, 2018
Fairly striking image — all of the flags surrounding the Washington Monument are at half-staff, though the flag atop the White House was raised to full staff just after midnight. pic.twitter.com/BwKRbqKk0G
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) August 27, 2018
Oh, I see, White House. By raising the flag back to full mast prematurely, you’re saying that it’s ok to use the symbols of this country as vehicles for protest, but only if the protest is personal, spiteful, and childish. Got it. Thanks.
— Trump’s Ties (@TrumpsTies) August 27, 2018
The news just reported that only one day after the passing of Senator John McCain, the White House is no longer flying the flag at half staff.
I don’t want to hear another word about how kneeling in peaceful protest is disrespectful to our flag, our country, or our military.
— Kyle Scobee (@kyle_scobee) August 27, 2018
This story has been updated with additional context about White House flag protocol.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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