Trump assistant Kelly Sadler dismissed McCain's views because 'he's dying anyway'
A Trump aide has been accused of mocking Arizona Senator John McCain's struggle with brain cancer in a private meeting with the White House communications team.
During a discussion regarding McCain's public opposition to the appointment of Gina Haspel as CIA director, Kelly Sadler reportedly dismissed his opinion, saying: "It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway". The claims were first published by newspaper The Hill, who quoted a source familiar with the remarks.
Hours after the story broke, McCain's wife Cindy hit back in a tweet tagged to Sadler which said: “May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.” According to reports, Sadler later telephoned their daughter Meghan to apologise for her remarks.
However, it does not seem that Meghan is ready to forgive and forget just yet. In an interview with The View, she commented: "I don't understand what kind environment you're working when that would be acceptable and then you could come to work the next day and still have a job".
It was in July 2017 that McCain, who has served six terms in his role as Senator, revealed that he was suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. The average survival time after diagnosis is approximately 15 months.
Mrs Sadler's comments came after John McCain released a statement on Wednesday imploring the Senate to reject Haspel's nomination on the basis that she has sanctioned the use of torture in the past: "Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination."
Although Haspel is President Trump's favoured choice for the CIA's top job, having spent her career in the service, the Senate must still approve her for the position. However, questions have been raised over her involvement in interrogation programmes following 9/11, including her position as the chief of a CIA "black site" prison in Thailand. In her confirmation hearing, held on May 9, she declined to criticise the use of techniques such as waterboarding.
McCain has been a long-standing critic of the use of torture methods by the US, having spent time as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, during which time he was himself tortured. As a result of his service, he was left with lifelong physical disabilities.
The White House didn't deny that Sadler made the remarks. In a statement, it said: "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time." However, according to sources who had spoken with CNN, privately the President's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chastised staff for the leak.