John McCain's Death Brought Out the Worst in the Trump Administration - 2018-08-28
As my colleague Russell Berman has written, McCain and Trump had a contentious relationship, and that spilled into the president's reaction to the Arizona senator's death. After McCain, a fellow Republican, died on Saturday, the president tweeted a terse condolence to his family, with nothing about the man himself. The Washington Post then reported that Trump had nixed an official White House statement about McCain.
On Monday, matters reached peak pettiness, as the White House raised its American flag to full-staff, while other flags around Washington remained at half-staff. This follows strict protocol—which mandates the flag be lowered the day of a senator's death and the day after—but was widely viewed as a snub, since a president can, and often does, override rules in moments like this. During a brief White House appearance, Trump folded his arms, glowered, and remained silent as reporters asked him about McCain.
Finally, late Monday afternoon, the White House's flag was lowered back to half-staff. Trump also issued a proclamation calling for flags to remain lowered until the day McCain is buried. He said in a statement that he had asked Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a Capitol ceremony honoring McCain, and would dispatch his chief of staff, John Kelly; defense secretary, James Mattis; and national-security adviser, John Bolton, to attend McCain's funeral at the Washington National Cathedral. (Left unsaid was the fact that the president was conspicuously not invited to the funeral.)