Sen. John McCain’s wife and daughter chastised a White House aide who made a dismissive remark about the senator’s cancer diagnosis during an internal meeting.
“May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren,” Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter Thursday evening.
McCain (R-Ariz.), the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, released a statement Thursday announcing his opposition to the confirmation of Gina Haspel to be CIA director, writing that her “refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” Haspel’s record at the CIA, chiefly her supervision of a CIA “black site” prison where terrorism suspects were waterboarded, has proven controversial in her confirmation hearings.
Opposition to Haspel by McCain, who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, prompted White House communications aide Kelly Sadler to remark during a Thursday meeting that “it doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Sadler called McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, later Thursday but the call did not go well, according to a source familiar with it.
Meghan McCain’s apparent animus towards Sadler seemed not to have diminished by Friday morning, when she suggested on ABC’s “The View,” a show she cohosts, that the White House communications aide should lose her job. “Kelly, here’s a little newsflash, and this may be a bit intense for 11 o’clock in the morning on a Friday, but we’re all dying. I’m dying, you’re dying, we’re all dying.”
“I don’t understand what kind of environment you’re working in when that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job and that’s all I have to say about it,” she said.
The “View” panel also addressed a critic of McCain’s who appeared on Fox Business Network and sought to dispute McCain’s opposition to Haspel by suggesting that torture “worked on John. That’s why they call him songbird John.
“My Father’s legacy will be talked about for hundreds and hundreds of years. These people? Nothingburgers. Nobody going to remember you,” Meghan McCain said.
She also sought to offer a more positive message, sharing that her father’s illness has given her an appreciation for life. She said her dad is “doing really well right now” and that “there’s so much more love and prayer and amazing energy being generated towards us than anything negative at all, and I feel so blessed.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on Sadler’s remarks on Friday but did say that she remained employed in the administration. Sanders did not deny that Sadler had made the remark. “I’m not going to validate a leak, one way or the other, out of an internal staff meeting,“ she said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, too, offered a dim assessment of Sadler’s remark and of the overall tone of the administration for which she works.
“People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday. John McCain is a genuine hero – a man of valor whose sacrifices for his country are immeasurable. As he fights for is life, he deserves better – so much better,” the vice president said in a statement. “Given this White House’s trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it. Our children learn from our example. The lingering question is whose example will it be. I am certain it will be John’s.”
McCain has been away from the Senate for several weeks receiving treatment for brain cancer and recovering from a related surgery. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close friend of McCain’s who visited him for two days this week, said the Arizona lawmaker is “stabilizing” and has a “healthy appetite,” refuting to some degree speculation that McCain’s battle with brain cancer might keep him from returning to the Senate.