According to an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the White House wanted the U.S. Navy to move “out of sight” the warship USS John S. McCain ahead of Trump’s visit to Japan. The Journal said,
In a May 15 email to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official outlined plans for the president’s arrival that he said had resulted from conversations between the White House Military Office and the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy. In addition to instructions for the proper landing areas for helicopters and preparation for the USS Wasp—where the president was scheduled to speak—the official issued a third directive:
“USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.”
A tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the president’s trip, according to photos reviewed by the Journal, and sailors were directed to remove any coverings from the ship that bore its name.
After the tarp was taken down, a barge was moved closer to the ship, obscuring its name. Sailors on the ship, who typically wear caps bearing its name, were given the day off during Mr. Trump’s visit, people familiar with the matter said.
The picture of the tarp was taken on Friday and the tarp was taken down on Saturday. The paint barge was also removed ahead of the presidential visit, according to Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
Trump arrived on Tuesday to speak to around 800 military men and women (some of whom wore “Make Aircrew Great Again” patches with a likeness of the president on their jumpsuits) Trump said he was joined by sailors from six other ships but made no mention of the USS John McCain.
The White House declined to answer questions about the reason for the directive or where it originated.
Meghan McCain, Mr. McCain’s daughter, wrote on Twitter:
“Nine months since he passed, Trump won’t let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him. It makes my grief unbearable.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked McCain, both before and since he died in August from a brain tumor at 81. McCain was one of the few Republican senators willing to publicly challenge the president, including casting a critical vote in 2017 that blocked the GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a source of immense aggravation for the president, who has often mimicked the hand motion and has called the vote “disgraceful” in April.
In July 2018, a month before Mr. McCain’s death, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer formally added Mr. McCain as a namesake of the USS John McCain, which had been named for his father and grandfather after it launched in 1994. Mr. McCain said at the time that he was “deeply honored.”
Reporting on the story for 360, CNN‘s Anderson Cooper said,
“It seems to speak… to President Trump’s insecurity and vanity… if true… it sounds like one of the smallest, pettiest things I’ve heard.”
I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
It “seems to speak… to President Trump’s insecurity and vanity… if true… it sounds like one of the smallest, pettiest things I’ve heard.”@andersoncooper responds to report the White House wanted the USS John McCain “out of sight” during President Trump’s visit to Japan. pic.twitter.com/QA40V0DfBo— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 30, 2019
(Photo, screen grab; via WSJ)