Washington (AFP) – A White House aide said the opposition of Senator John McCain, 81 and battling brain cancer, to the nominee for CIA director does not matter because “he’s dying anyway,” US media reported.
CNN and other media said the comment came from a communications aide named Kelly Sadler.
CNN quoted a White House official as saying Sadler, speaking Thursday at a staff meeting, meant the comment as a joke but that it flopped.
President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the new CIA director is Gina Haspel, a career agency officer who once oversaw waterboarding of terror detainees at a ‘black site’ and at her Senate confirmation hearings declined to describe torture as morally reprehensible, although she did vow not to bring it back if confirmed.
McCain, who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and was tortured during that time, said in a statement after Haspel’s confirmation testimony Wednesday that she was a “patriot” because of her years of service to the country.
But the Republican senator from Arizona alluded to her record and testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee to urge his fellow lawmakers to vote down her nomination.
The White House did not deny Sadler’s reported remarks.
It said in a statement: “We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
McCain’s wife Cindy responded with a tweet tagged to Sadler. It said: “May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren.”