(This story has been updated.)
President Trump can’t let his grudge against the late senator John McCain go.
In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Trump quoted former independent counsel Ken Starr, who criticized the Arizona Republican on a recent Fox News show. In the segment, Starr referred to reports that a McCain ally had shared parts of the Steele dossier with the media. The dossier, assembled by British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, allegedly included information that linked Trump to the Russian government.
Starr, in a Fox News interview, said the leaks, if true, are a “very dark stain” against McCain.
Trump piled on in his tweet on Saturday, adding: “He had far worse ‘stains’ than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!”
Trump was referring to the Republicans’ last effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When the Republican-led Senate took it up in 2017, McCain famously voted against it, which put the GOP one vote shy of passage.
McCain had already learned that he had terminal cancer by that time. His vote to save the ACA was viewed as a defining moment in his career as a lawmaker. It also earned him the ire of Trump, which hasn’t waned even since McCain’s death in August. Trump brought up McCain’s thumbs-down vote often during campaign rallies throughout the late senator’s illness, eliciting boos from Trump supporters.
(The Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler pointed out that it’s disingenuous for Trump or anyone to say McCain was the only thing that stood between ACA survival or doom. McCain voted against a “skinny repeal” of the health care, which wouldn’t have dismantled the entire thing, and even if it had passed the Senate, the House would have needed to pass that version too. Kessler has previously given Trump “three Pinocchios” for this claim. Read that fact check here.)
The response from McCain allies was sharp and swift.
Mark Salter, who worked closely with McCain for many years as an aide and speechwriter, tweeted: “Here is what will never change. John McCain will always be a better man than you in every way we measure a man’s character. You’ll never beat him. Now [expletive] off, you miserable excuse for a human being.”
McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain, who gave an impassioned eulogy at her father’s funeral, also responded to the president’s disparaging remarks Saturday.
“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father. . . .” she tweeted. “I wish I had been given more Saturday’s with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?”