Donald Trump long refused to join the bipartisan group of politicians praising the life of John McCain — a group that now even includes McCain’s former captor in Vietnam’s infamous “Hanoi Hilton.”
This weekend, President Trump stirred controversy when he chose to issue a terse statement offering condolences to McCain’s family after the passing of the Arizona senator. The decision not to acknowledge McCain’s service in the U.S. Navy or his accomplishments as a U.S. senator was seen as a continuation of the animosity Trump felt toward the Arizona senator. Trump made a number of public digs at McCain during his life, including saying McCain shouldn’t be considered a war hero since he was shot down in Vietnam. The man who oversaw the prison of war camp where McCain spent five years thinks differently, Slate reported.
Retired Col. Tran Trong Duyet, who was in charge of the prison camp where McCain was taken after being shot down in Vietnam, said he came to admire McCain for his convictions and dedication to his country.
“I had a lot of time meeting him when he was kept in the prison,” he told Viet Nam News. “At that time I liked him personally for his toughness and strong stance.”
Duyet said he was also proud of how McCain was a leader in forging stronger relations between Vietnam and the United States after the war ended.
“Later on, when he became a U.S. Senator, he and Senator John Kerry greatly contributed to promote Vietnam-US relations so I was very fond of him,” Duyet added.
In the United States, politicians from both sides of the aisle were full of praise for John McCain. Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential election, praised how the Arizona senator could work with members of both parties to further the United States. McCain reportedly asked both Obama and George W. Bush to deliver eulogies at his funeral.
But Donald Trump has been an exception. Despite taking criticism from members of his own party, Trump has continued to refuse to offer a statement praising any of McCain’s accomplishments. And on Monday morning, the White House resumed raising the flag after flying it at half-staff for one day — though later lowered it again amid widespread criticism from veteran groups.
Holy crap, this video of @jonkarl asking Trump TEN TIMES whether he wanted to say anything about John McCain should be used in every journalism class from now on. ???? (My favorite is when he leans over the couch and Melania is not pleased.)pic.twitter.com/C3Rit8nyXE— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 28, 2018
Watch Georgia Republican call out Trump on Senate floor: 'Anybody who tarnishes McCain’s reputation deservers a whipping' https://t.co/eulyckyzar— Raw Story (@RawStory) August 28, 2018
As CNN noted, Donald Trump also ignored questions from reporters about John McCain on Monday, though the White House later did issue a slightly longer statement that said, “despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country.”