UPDATE: President Trump orders flags to be lowered after they were placed back at full-staff
Just after midnight on Sunday night, the flag flying above the White House was hoisted back to full staff.
Since Saturday evening, it had been positioned at half-staff to mark the death of Sen. John McCain, the former Vietnam prisoner of war and onetime Republican nominee for President.
On Saturday, President Trump tweeted, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
The White House flag returned to its regular position even as other flags around Washington — including at the US Capitol — remained in the half-staff mourning position.
Defense Department guidelines call for flags to be flown at half-staff “from the day of death through the following day” in the event a US senator or member of Congress dies. But the President has the authority to order a longer period of mourning.
Barring an official White House proclamation ordering flags nationwide to be flown at half-staff in McCain’s honor, the top Senate Republican and Democrat on Monday requested that the Defense Department “provide necessary support so that US flags on all government buildings remain at half-mast through sunset on the day of Senator McCain’s interment,” Schumer’s communications director said.
On Monday afternoon, Trump released his first official statement regarding McCain’s passing.
“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment. I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday. At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C, military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy. Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattis, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at his services,” the President said in a statement.
Early in his presidential bid, Trump — who received five deferments to avoid military service in Vietnam — infamously maintained that McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured. He never apologized or walked-back his comments, despite the fact that McCain was imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam for more than five years.
During the time he remained active in the Senate, McCain also expressed deep misgivings about Trump’s job as President, criticizing his handling of world affairs and the example he has set for the country.
McCain also made clear he did not want Trump to attend his funeral service, instead choosing former Presidents George W. Bush, a Republican, and Barack Obama, a Democrat, to eulogize him. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to represent the White House at McCain’s funeral service.