Two senators have voiced their disapproval over a joke about Sen. John McCain’s terminal illness.
During an internal meeting on Thursday, White House aide Kelly Sadler responded to McCain’s opposition to Trump’s nominee for CIA director saying, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” The comment has sparked a wave of backlash from lawmakers in both parties.
McCain, who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, released a statement on Wednesday rejecting the nominee, Gina Haspel.
“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense,” McCain wrote. “However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN that, “It is one thing in the White House for somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful about an American hero, it is another thing for them not to apologize.”
“It is beyond my comprehension,” Sanders added. “I just don’t know what goes on in that White House mentality for there not being an apology for that terrible remark.”
McCain’s disapproval of CIA nominee Gina Haspel comes from firsthand experience. Prior to his career in politics, McCain served the military as a naval aviator. During his service, he was shot and seriously injured during the Vietnam War. He was captured in 1967 by the North Vietnamese and was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain was subjected to routine torture, having been bound and beaten every two hours while suffering from dysentery.
“He’s an American hero,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told the host of Face the Nation. “I think most Americans would like to see the Trump administration do better in situations like this. It doesn’t hurt you at all to do the right thing and to be big.
If it was a joke, it was a terrible joke. I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate, that’s not who we are in the Trump administration.”
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