White House Aide Kelly Sadler made a crass remark about ailing Senator John McCain, according to two Associated Press reporters who were in the room when she spoke. Because the reporters are not authorized to discuss what goes on behind closed doors at the White House, they are speaking on the condition of anonymity.
As Yahoo News reports, the two reporters were in the room at a staff meeting on Thursday when the subject of John McCain came up. Specifically, they were discussing McCain’s opposition to Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to head the CIA.
“It doesn’t matter… he’s dying anyway.”
The White House, for its part, did not deny the statement but stopped short of apologizing.
“We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
McCain, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year, has been hospitalized since December. Nevertheless, he’s still somewhat active in his Senate duties, and he’s been particularly vocal about his opposition to Haspel. Haspel, in 2002, was assigned to oversee a so-called CIA “black site” in Thailand – that is, an undisclosed, secret location where detainees were subject to waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation” – or, torture, as some opponents have called the techniques. Further, Haspel directed her subordinates to destroy tapes of detainees being tortured.
McCain was a Prisoner of War in Vietnam and was brutally tortured for years. He has been vocally opposed to Haspel because of his opposition to torture.
The Washpost editorial board is coming out against Gina Haspel for the CIA. This was a hard one for us, because she is competent and qualified. But for us opposition to torture is fundamental–and she failed that test https://t.co/5AWZ6PyNKr
— Jackson Diehl (@JacksonDiehl) May 10, 2018
Specifically, according to The Hill, McCain says torture is “immoral,” and faults Haspel for failing to admit that.
“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,”
This is not the first time that McCain and his opposition to torture have been met with insensitive remarks. As The New York Post reported earlier this week, military analyst Thomas McInerney appeared on Fox Business this week and claimed that McCain has no right to speak on torture because it “worked” on him.
“The fact is, is John McCain — [torture] worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.'”
The Fox network later stated that McInerney would no longer be invited to any of its shows.