McCain 'Partially to Blame' for White House Flag Says GOP Sen

John Mc Cain Donald Trump

Bowing to pressure, President Donald Trump today ordered American flags at USA buildings lowered to half-staff for Senator John McCain until his burial on Sunday.

"Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country", Trump wrote in the four-paragraph statement, which dealt mainly in the logistical details he'd approved for the week-long remembrance ceremonies. That prompted many Americans to lower flags to half-staff, a traditional gesture of honor.

The facts of the late Senator John McCain's service in the Navy are well-known: a Naval Academy graduate, he flew an A-4E Skyhawk while serving in Vietnam and was shot down and captured on October 23, 1967.

Trump waited almost 48 hours to praise McCain's military service or decades in Congress with public remarks, a statement or a tweet since the senator died Saturday after a year-long fight with brain cancer.

But before the White House gave into widespread criticism, including from Republicans, American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan wants to know why it was raised early Monday in the first place. Trump has repeatedly said that McCain, who spent more than five years as a POW in Vietnam, was "not a war hero", and continued to snub the longtime senator throughout his battle with brain cancer.

Updated 4:51 p.m. | Four times on Monday Donald Trump was asked about the late Sen. Text the word "NEWS" to 22840.

Later, at an evening dinner honoring evangelical leaders, Trump said "our hearts and prayers" are going to the McCain family "and we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country".

US law states that when the president or a governor orders a flag to be lowered to half-staff it should remain there for a set length of time - from 30 days for a current or former president to 10 days for a Supreme Court chief justice or House speaker and others, and until burial for Cabinet secretaries, governors and others. Trump has followed the USA flag code: The flags need to be lowered for a member of Congress only on the day of their death and the day after. Governors in at least 10 states - Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania - ordered flags flown at half-staff for the period.

AMVETS also supports a bipartisan proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building in honor of Senator McCain. For members of Congress, it only says the flag should be lowered "on the day of death and the following day".

"We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe", McCain had said.

Trump acknowledged their differences in a statement but voiced "respect" for McCain's service after saying in 2015 that McCain is not a war hero and "I like people who weren't captured". "We will come through them stronger than before, we always do".

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And the president issued his first direct statement since the senator's death.

By the end of the day, Mr Trump had done just that, with no immediate explanation from the White House.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., an Iraq War veteran, said in a tweet that Trump "is living proof that money does not buy class". Bob Corker said he was "all for" renaming the building in McCain's honor but that "there'll probably be some discussion about that" in both parties. McCain was also alarmed by the rise of far-right populism in Europe, and the British break with the European Union that Trump has heralded.

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