Republican Sen. James Inhofe told reporters Monday that Sen. John McCain was “partially to blame” for the controversy over the lowering of the White House flag.
Inhofe, a senior member of Senate Armed Services Committee, was highly complimentary of McCain but when asked about the flag flap he attributed it to the late senator’s public spat with President Donald Trump in recent years. He described both men as “strong willed people.”
“Well, you know, frankly, I think that John McCain is partially to blame for that because he is very outspoken. He disagreed with the President in certain areas and wasn’t too courteous about it,” Inhofe said.
On Saturday evening, the White House flag had been positioned at half-staff to mark the death of McCain, the former Vietnam prisoner of war and onetime Republican presidential nominee. But just after midnight on Sunday night, the flag flying above the White House was hoisted back to full staff.
Then on Monday afternoon, the White House once again lowered the flag to half-staff and Trump, in a statement, said he “signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”
Trump initially tweeted condolences for McCain’s family but did not praise the senator specifically. On Monday afternoon, he issued a statement saying, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country.”
The President and McCain had an antagonistic relationship, and early in his presidential campaign, Trump declared the longtime Arizona senator not a war hero because he had been “captured.”
Inhofe described McCain, who was a prisoner for five and a half years, as a hero multiple times. But when asked what he thought about Trump not using that word for McCain, Inhofe brushed it off.
“Oh, let them have their thing,” he said. “I have no opinions about that. He was my hero.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.