While he eventually agreed to lower the White House flag in honor of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) passing again on Monday — after receiving criticism from veterans for only leaving the flag at half staff for the weekend — President Donald Trump was resistant to the gesture because he thought McCain’s death was getting too much news coverage.
According to people familiar with the situation who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, Trump thought the reporting on McCain’s passing, just one day after his family announced he would stop seeking medical treatment for his brain cancer, was “over-the-top and more befitting a president,” in WSJ’s words.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly played a leading role in convincing the President to agree to lower the flags again and issue a proclamation on McCain’s death.
“It was 99 percent Sarah,” and partially Chief of Staff John Kelly’s influence that got Trump to change his mind, a senior White House official told WSJ.
The White House flags were lowered to half-staff on Saturday and Sunday, but Trump broke with precedent by not leaving them lowered until McCain’s interment. After receiving considerable backlash from members of Congress and veterans groups alike, the White House re-lowered the flags and Trump issued a proclamation.