The U.S. Navy confirmed that all the reports were true and the White House had requested to hide the USS John S. McCain during President Donald Trump’s state visit to Japan. “A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, chief of Navy information, said in a statement. “There were also no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain.”
The acknowledgement came shortly after acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called for an investigation of the incident. “Our business is to run military operations and not become politicized,” Shanahan told reporters in Singapore. “I would not have moved the ship.” The controversy over the request began earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House wanted the destroyer to be moved “out of sight” during the president’s visit. In the statement, Brown said the Navy is “fully cooperating with the review of this matter.”
According to earlier reports, the request to hide the ship came from the White House military operations office. And it seems the Navy initially tried to comply with the request. Although the USS John S. McCain was under repairs and moving It would have been impractical, its name was temporarily hidden by a giant tarp. Once higher ups got wind of what was going on they called the whole thing off. But the question remains about whether sailors from the USS McCain were deliberately kept away from Trump’s speech. Some say they were turned away, but officials insist that if that happened it was solely due to a space issue and not because their uniforms include the ship’s name.
Trump has denied he knew anything about the request but also did not seem particularly troubled by it, saying that whoever made it likely had good intentions. “Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, O.K.?” Trump told reporters. “They were well meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.” He also used the opportunity to once again explain why he “was not a big fan of John McCain.”
Meghan McCain harshly criticized Trump this week, saying that his repeated attacks against her father have made an already difficult time even more difficult. “It’s impossible to go through the grief process when my father, who’s been dead 10 months, is constantly in the news cycle because the President is so obsessed with the fact that he’s never going to be a great man like he was,” she said at the beginning of The View on Thursday. “It’s a bizarre way to do this. It’s a bizarre way to grieve. It’s a bizarre way to say goodbye to my dad.” She also took to Twitter to call Trump a “child,” saying that she feels the need to “stand up for him” because “Trump won’t let him RIP.”
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus