The Navy has acknowledged for the first time it received a request to “minimize visibility” of the USS John S. McCain during President Trump’s visit to Japan earlier this week.
“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, chief of Navy information, told CNN in a statement late Friday.
“There were also no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain,” he added.
The spokesman said that the Navy is “fully cooperating with the review of this matter.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said earlier this week that he had directed his chief of staff to look into the incident because he never authorized any “action around the movement of activity regarding that ship.”
The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.
— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) May 30, 2019
Shanahan maintained Friday that the U.S. military would not “become politicized” amid questions over a White House order to keep the USS John S. McCain “out of sight” during Trump’s visit to Japan.
The ship is currently undergoing repairs after a 2017 collision, with one Navy official telling CNN that the White House request was impractical.
“Our business is to run military operations and not to become politicized,” Shanahan told reporters during a news conference in Singapore on Friday when asked if he shared Trump’s assessment that whoever gave the order was “well-meaning.”
“I’ll wait until I get a full explanation of the facts before I’ll pass judgment on the situation, but our job is to run the military. And I would not have moved the ship. I would not have given that direction,” he added.
Trump said Thursday that he “didn’t know anything” about the request to hide destroyer during his visit to the Yokosuka Naval Base on Memorial Day, adding that the person was “well-meaning.”
Trump went on to attack the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his vote that helped torpedo GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare in 2017, saying he “was not a big fan of John McCain.”
“But I would never do a thing like that,” he added. “Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him. And they were well-meaning, I will say.”