President Trump wielded his digital bully pulpit Sunday by again attacking the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), making untrue claims about his involvement in a dossier linking Trump to the Russian government, incorrectly stating McCain was “last in his class” at Annapolis and blasting his voting record.
The comments touched off a fierce defense from the late senator’s daughter Meghan McCain and led others to question why Trump decided to attack the Vietnam veteran, who died of brain cancer last year.
“The president did use his direct line to the American people to take more cheap shots at an American war hero who is not even alive to defend himself,” CNN anchor Ana Cabrera said, before a tongue-in-cheek kudos.
Trump also made it to Vietnam, “although not until he was in his 70s and with Secret Service protection,” she said, an apparent reference to Trump missing the Vietnam War through four education deferments and one medical disqualification.
Trump visited Hanoi in February for what turned into a failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The president’s comments roiled Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a close friend of McCain and arguably Trump’s most steadfast supporter in Congress. McCain “stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body,” Graham said in a two-tweet response.
“Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished.”
That position was incompatible with Trump’s comments, Cabrera said after reading Graham’s tweets. Cabrera noted what Trump had not used his enormously influential platform for: unequivocally condemning white supremacist violence after the Christchurch attack Friday, which left 50 people dead in an attack on two mosques.
Trump launched five immediate tweets about the mass shooting that ignited global outcry and support for a U.S. ally that has fought alongside American troops in Afghanistan for years.
But he did not condemn white supremacist violence, which he said is not a rising problem.
Trump did, however, use Twitter to rally behind Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who was bumped from her Saturday night slot after she suggested on air that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) did not support the U.S. Constitution because she is Muslim and wears a hijab.
On Sunday, Trump also retweeted Mike Cernovich, a conservative commentator who helped spread the #Pizzagate conspiracy that led a man to fire a gun inside a Washington pizza restaurant.
Trump amplified praise from a supporter about his attack on McCain, even though it wasn’t accurate.
McCain was not the last-ranked midshipman in 1958. He was fifth from the bottom of the 899 students that year.
And if he were the last, McCain would’ve received the honor of being the class “anchor.” That midshipman is recognized with cheers from the class as a future officer of high perseverance — a trait that McCain famously possessed in captivity.