by Shelby Talcott
President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday morning that he had no knowledge of a “well-meaning” request to keep the USS John McCain out of view during his recent trip to Japan.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that a White House official asked the U.S. Navy to move the USS McCain “out of sight” before Trump’s visit to Japan. A May 15 email from a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials outlined plans for Trump’s Japan visit, including a request saying that the “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,” WSJ reported.
“I don’t know what happened,” Trump said in a reply to reporters Thursday morning. “I wasn’t involved, I would not have done that.”
“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him [late Arizona Sen. John McCain],” Trump added. “Okay, and they were well-meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.”
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied knowing anything about the reported request while talking to reporters Thursday en route to Indonesia. He said that he will investigate the reports.
“What I read this morning was the first I heard about it,” he said Thursday. “I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activities regarding that ship.”
Trump told reporters Thursday that he was not a fan of McCain, but that he “would never do a thing like that.”
“I don’t know who did it,” Trump said. “We’ll probably be able to figure out who did it. They thought they were doing me a favor because they know I am not a fan of John McCain.”
“But certainly I couldn’t care less whether or not there’s a boat named after his father.”
WSJ reported that a tarp covering the ship’s name was seen in photos ahead of Trump’s visit, and sailors who typically wear caps bearing the ship’s name were given the day off during Trump’s visit.
Three Navy officials stated that there was no tarp that covered the ship when Trump was there, according to CNN. These Navy officials said that the WSJ saw a photo taken on May 24, and that the tarp was removed the next day.
“We didn’t do anything to obstruct the name of the ship,” a third U.S. Navy official told CNN.
Navy Cmdr. Clay Doss, a U.S. Seventh Fleet spokesman, said that the paint barge that could have obscured the ship’s name was also removed before the visit, CNN reported. Additionally, the U.S. Navy’s chief of information tweeted Wednesday night stating that the USS McCain name had been visible.
The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.
— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) May 30, 2019
The president tweeted about the situation Wednesday, saying that he was not informed about the request and that he “loved being with our great Military Men and Women.”
I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter, also tweeted about the situation Wednesday.
Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads incredible life. There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won't let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him.
It makes my grief unbearable. https://t.co/gUbFAla1VE
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) May 30, 2019
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