Donald Trump Talks John McCain Feud During Press Conference With Jair Bolsonaro

Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro
Chris Kleponis-Pool / Getty Images

Sen. John McCain has been dead for more than eight months, but President Donald Trump’s feud with him appears far from over.

Trump, who was famously asked by McCain’s family to not attend the senator’s funeral, ripped McCain during his tweetstorm over the weekend, quoting Clinton-era independent counsel Kenneth Starr that McCain’s spreading of the Steele Dossier in late 2016 was “a very dark stain” against McCain’s legacy. Trump also criticized the late McCain for voting against a health care repeal measure in 2017.

The president attacked McCain again Tuesday during a White House press conference along with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro when a reporter asked Trump why he is attacking McCain.

“I’m very unhappy that he didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare,” Trump said at the White House, per ABC News. “He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years, and then he got to a vote, and he said thumbs down. Our country would have saved a trillion dollars, and we would have had great health care… plus there were other things. I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be.”

Trump’s history of McCain’s no vote isn’t quite as simple as Trump describes it, per The Washington Post. McCain, who had voted for several other Obamacare repeal schemes, voted against “skinny repeal,” a compromise measure in the Senate, in July of 2017. Had McCain voted yes, it would not have meant final passage of a repeal law, but rather the creation of a conference committee to reconcile repeal bills passed by the House and Senate. It’s far from certain that the conference would have led to a bill that resulted in something with enough votes to pass both houses.

McCain and Trump’s feud goes back much further, however. McCain was a loud early opponent of Trump’s 2016 candidacy, and Trump responded by criticizing the senator’s military service.

“I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump famously said in July of 2015, per Politico.

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However, per OpenSecrets, Trump donated to McCain’s campaigns numerous times over the years.

Trump’s tweetstorm also accused McCain of using the Steele Dossier to try to influence the 2016 election, but McCain did not even see the dossier until after that election was over, per The Washington Post. It’s also not true, per Trump’s tweets, that McCain graduated last in his class from the Naval Academy.

At any rate, it is highly unusual for any sitting politician, much less a president, to repeatedly attack a political foe who isn’t still alive.