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USS John McCain sailors were reportedly turned away from Trump speech

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Not only did the White House request that the USS John S. McCain be “out of sight” during President Donald Trump’s Memorial Day address to US troops serving in Japan, but the ship’s sailors were reportedly turned away when they tried to attend the event.

Every US Navy warship sitting in the harbor, except for the McCain, was invited to send around 60-70 sailors to hear the president’s address, the New York Times reported, citing a US service member stationed at the naval base in Yokosuka. McCain sailors were reportedly given the day off. Some sailors from the McCain showed up anyway hoping to attend, but they were turned away.

The White House sent an email to the Navy prior to the president’s visit to Japan requesting that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer named after several generations of the McCain family, including Trump’s long-time rival Sen. John McCain, be hidden from view, CNN reported.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan “was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive,” Lt. Colonel Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the secretary, said in an emailed statement.

Shanahan told reporters that he would look into the matter.

President Trump has denied having any knowledge of any plans related to the relocation or hiding of the McCain.

Trump later said he doesn’t care whether the McCain is present or not. “They thought they were doing me a favor because I’m not a fan of John McCain,” Trump told reporters Thursday, adding, “Certainly I couldn’t care less whether there’s a boat named after his father.” The destroyer is also named after the late senator and his grandfather.

The Navy has stressed repeatedly that the service did not take any steps to hide the McCain as the White House is said to have requested.

“All ships remained in normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Cmdr. Clay Doss, a 7th Fleet spokesman, told Stars and Stripes.

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