President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his response to the death of Sen. John McCain in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Trump told Bloomberg, “No, I don’t think I did at all,” when asked if he missed a chance to unite the country and whether he had made a mistake. Trump had faced criticism for failing to issue a laudatory statement about McCain after his death and waffling over whether to keep flags at half-staff days after McCain died.
“I’ve done everything that they requested and no, I don’t think I have at all,” the President said.
The Arizona Republican died on Saturday at the age of 81 after battling brain cancer.
Following McCain’s passing, Trump tweeted that his “deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain,” in a brief message that did not directly praise McCain or his service to the country. It wasn’t until Monday that Trump issued a longer statement on the late senator saying that he respected McCain’s service.
After midnight on Sunday evening, the flag above the White House was raised back to full staff after having been at half-staff since Saturday night to mark McCain’s death.
Images of the White House flag at full-staff while other flags on the National Mall continued to fly at half-staff were circulated Monday morning, a scene critics called a stark visual representation of Trump’s antipathy toward McCain.
Later Monday, the President announced he had signed a proclamation to fly the US flag at half-staff until McCain’s interment.
Trump told Bloomberg on Thursday that he and McCain “had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements.” He said, “I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in.”
Trump did say of McCain during the Bloomberg interview that he “respect(s) his service to the country.”
A memorial service was held to honor McCain in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday. The event is just one of several that will take place over the next few days to commemorate the life of the late senator.
McCain’s body will lie in state at the US Capitol on Friday with a ceremony held in the Capitol Rotunda.
Trump has not been invited to any of McCain’s memorial services.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.