White House flag back at full staff after McCain's death

Hugh Fox
August 28, 2018

Flags around D.C. were lowered to half-staff in his honor, but the flag atop the White House was raised back to full-staff early Monday, prompting bipartisan blowback as well as criticism from the American Legion, a veterans' organization.

The White House didn't immediately respond to questions Monday. Senator John McCain was an American hero and cherished member of The American Legion.

Weeks before a midterm elections, and with the next presidential race already stirring, remembrances of McCain will showcase the kind of values and policies that the Republican icon shared with his establishment contemporaries.

Trump made no comment when McCain chose to end treatment for brain cancer on Friday, and also failed to mention McCain earlier this month when he signed a defence-spending bill named for him.

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However, after widespread criticism came over U.S. media, the flags were again lowered on Monday afternoon as Trump made his first reference to McCain: "Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country".

Current and former White House aides said Trump continually said McCain was "not a friend" and was out to undermine the administration's agenda, quarreling with other aides who were more supportive.

The Senate's top Democrat, New York's Chuck Schumer, said he wants to rename the Senate building that housed McCain's suite of offices after McCain.

Tributes for McCain and the lauding of his courage, honor, decency, character, and readiness to reexamine his own mistakes will unfold at a time when Trump is facing an unflattering public debate about his own personality and behavior. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities overseas, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

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President Donald Trump offered his condolences on Twitter to McCain's family but hasn't issued a presidential proclamation with an order lowering the flags. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush issued glowing eulogies as well.

"Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did", Obama wrote in a statement issued minutes after McCain's passing was announced on Saturday evening.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell says that while McCain served the state of Arizona in Congress, "he was America's hero all along". The death of a vice president, chief justice, former chief justice or House speaker merits 10 days, and for a president or former president, the flag flies at half-staff for 30 days.

Ashley Harper and Michael Harper were seen with their two young sons Culhane and Fincher, gazing at a plaque bearing McCain's name. Trump later acknowledged that McCain was a hero, but refused to apologize in subsequent interviews. "His life is a story of American heroism personified".

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