Aide who said McCain is ‘dying’ still works at White House

Published 11:54 am Sunday, May 13, 2018

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday declined to condemn comments made by a special assistant to President Donald Trump dismissing Sen. John McCain’s opinion during a closed-door meeting because, she said, “he’s dying anyway.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she would not comment on an internal staff meeting, but said that Kelly Sadler, the aide in question, remains a White House staffer.

“I’m not going to validate a leak out of an internal staff meeting one way or the other,” she said.

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Sadler was discussing McCain’s opposition to Trump’s pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel, at a communications staff meeting on Thursday when she said that, “it doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway,”  two people in the room confirmed to The Associated Press.

The people, who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, described feeling shocked and stunned by the remark. The comment was first reported by The Hill newspaper.

The White House had released a more supportive statement Thursday evening that said, “We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”

The 81-year-old Arizona Republican, who has spent three decades in the Senate, was diagnosed in July with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He left Washington in December and underwent surgery last month for an infection.