Hours after snubbing late Senator John McCain by raising White House flag to full-staff too soon, US President Donald Trump bowed to pressure from veterans’ groups and ordered all flags to be lowered to half-staff across the country until the war hero’s funeral on Sunday.
As White House flags were lowered a second time on Monday, two days after the passing of McCain, Trump said he respects the Republican stalwart’s service to the country.
After Sunday midnight, White House flags returned to full staff although flags elsewhere in Washington including at the US Capitol remained at half-mast.
The raised flags at White House spoke volumes about President Donald Trump’s strained ties with McCain after his decisive vote last year foiled the president’s plan to partially repeal Obamacare.
Many veterans thought that considering McCain’s political stature, Trump could have signed a proclamation to keep White House flags at half-staff until his funeral on Sunday at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Trump did not initially issue one. Instead, he followed the rule which says US flag should be lowered on the day of death and the following day when a member of Congress dies.
Trump’s animosity towards McCain was also reflected in his tribute. While senators and previous presidents spoke of McCain as a war hero, patriot, and politician with deep knowledge and conviction, Trump issued a brief tweet offering condolences to McCain’s family.
During a meeting with journalists at White House on Monday, he did not reply to a question on McCain. Instead, with folded hands, he maintained a stoic silence.
There had been an outpouring of love and sympathy for McCain since he was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. However, Trump carefully avoided the subject in his speeches.
Recently, he approved a defence bill named after McCain without even mentioning him.
Although McCain suffered torture for more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, Trump, who was granted five deferments to avoid military service in Vietnam, did not regard him as a war hero because he was captured.
McCain was a harsh critic of Trump’s nationalistic and isolationist approach and his policy on Russia and North Korea.
McCain did not want Trump to attend his funeral. According to funeral plans, former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies.
Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the funeral instead of Trump.
In Phoenix, McCain’s former campaign manager Rick Davis read the political titan’s posthumous statement that made a final attack on Trump.
McCain said the US will lose its greatness if leaders hide behind walls instead of tearing them down in an indirect reference to Trump’s plans for a border wall.