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Trump finally lowers flag for John McCain after mounting criticism

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White House flag
The
White House once again lowered the flag for Sen. John McCain on
Monday after facing criticism for raising it earlier in the
day.

Pablo Martinez
Monsivais/AP


  • The White House on Monday afternoon lowered the flag to
    half-staff after facing mounting criticism over the decision to
    raise it earlier in the day, so soon after Sen. John McCain’s
    death. 
  • “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I
    respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in
    his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of
    the United States at half-staff until the day of his
    interment,” Trump said in a statement. 
  • Trump and McCain had a combative relationship and the
    president once said the Arizona senator was not a war hero
    since he’d been captured during the Vietnam War. 

The White House on Monday afternoon lowered the flag to
half-staff after facing mounting criticism from veterans groups
and members of Congress over the decision to raise it earlier in
the day so soon after Sen. John McCain’s death. 

When a member of Congress dies, US Flag code calls for the flag
to be flown at half-staff on the day of death and the following
day. The Trump administration honored this precedent over the
weekend after McCain’s death.

But it’s also been custom for presidents to sign a proclamation
calling for the flag to remain at half-staff until the day of
interment for prominent officials and figures. McCain died from
brain cancer on Saturday in his home state of Arizona and is set
to be interred at the US Naval Academy on Sunday. 

Reporters discovered early on Monday that flag had been returned
to full staff at the White House, Pentagon and other government
buildings, marking a departure from tradition. Veterans
groups promptly slammed Trump for this decision. 

Veterans groups ripped into Trump for raising the flag on Monday

The American Legion wrote a letter to Trump on Monday,
stating
, “I strongly urge you to make an appropriate
presidential proclamation noting Senator McCain’s death and
legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation’s flag be
half-staffed through his interment.”

American Veterans was more direct in
its statement toward Trump
, accusing him of disrespecting all
veterans by flying the flag at full staff.

“It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American
hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no
mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” said Joe Chenelly, the
group’s national executive director.

“By lowering flags for not one second more than the bare
minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of
lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly
showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many
decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the
service of all his fellow veterans,” Chenelly added.

Veterans of Foreign Wars also called for the White House to
extend the “honor” of flying the flag at half-staff for
McCain. 

Meanwhile, there were bipartisan
calls from Congress
for the flag to be lowered, including
from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell.

‘Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect
Senator John McCain’s service’

Trump ultimately buckled under the pressure and on Monday
afternoon released a statement announcing a presidential
proclamation to lower the flag.

“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect
Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor,
have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United
States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” Trump
said. 

Trump and McCain never got along

McCain is well-known for his military record and was a decorated
Vietnam War veteran.

The Arizona senator famously spent over five years as a POW in
the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam, where he was tortured and held in
solitary confinement for roughly two years. McCain
refused an opportunity for early release
during that period
over loyalty to his fellow American prisoners, and many regard
him as a hero for this defiant act. 

But Trump once questioned whether McCain was a hero during the
2016 presidential election, controversially stating he didn’t
believe soldiers who get “captured” can be heroes. Despite being
members of the same party, the two continued to butt heads until
the day McCain died.

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