Conservative commentator and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said he “feels bad” for Kelly Sadler, the White House aide who mocked Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis, saying “she’s also a little bit of a victim here.”
“Kelly is my friend. I feel bad she is going through this. She immediately called to apologize. She’s also a little bit of a victim here,” Schlapp told CNN “New Day” co-anchor Chris Cuomo on Monday.
During a private White House meeting last week, Sadler said that McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel, the president’s nominee to replace Mike Pompeo as CIA director, “doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway.” McCain, 81, is undergoing treatment for brain cancer after being diagnosed in July 2017 with an aggressive type of brain tumor called primary glioblastoma.
“I don’t blame anybody like you for running with leaks out of the White House,” he continued in addressing Cuomo directly. “It’s your job. You are trying to get transparency to voters and Americans.”
“The problem is none of us were in that room. The people who leaked what she said are people who have an animus against her. They go public. They have to solve that problem,” said Schlapp, whose wife, Mercedes Schlapp, serves as White House director of strategic communications.
“It is a perfectly logical thing to say, hey, will there be a McCain replacement? Will there be a McCain? Will he not be able to come to Washington? She could have meant it matter of factually,” he said. McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer last year.
Bill Kristol, founder and editor-at-large at The Weekly Standard, asked Schlapp why Sadler has so far refused to go on television to explain the McCain comment further.
“Let me tell you why. The reason is this: For this White House to comment on statements that are made in confidential meetings, if they continue to comment on what was said or not said, what was meant, they will never get out of this box,” Schlapp said. “They shouldn’t comment. They never should have said anything about this comment.”
“Come on. Of course they should have,” interjected Cuomo. “Not only should they have said John McCain doesn’t deserve it, the president could have tweeted it.”
“Once you start commenting about leaks out of those meetings, you will never be able to appropriately run your agenda. And you shouldn’t comment on it,” Schlapp replied.
Kristol said that Sadler “deserves credit for telling Meghan McCain,” but that she should have made a public apology.
“The chief of staff won’t say it because Donald Trump doesn’t want him to say that. The fish rots from the head. This is Donald Trump’s White House. People are behaving like Donald Trump,” Kristol said.
“She apologized, Bill,” Schlapp replied.
“She didn’t do it publicly,” Cuomo said in ending the segment.
“It is all public now,” said Schlapp.
Matt Schlapp says that "Kelly Sadler is a little bit of a victim here." (via CNN) pic.twitter.com/LtceMdDFlu
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 14, 2018
Last month, Schlapp said he bailed out of the White House Correspondents Dinner after comedian Michelle Wolf’s “not funny” monologue became more “mean-spirited.”
“You can like or not like Sarah, you can like or not like her politics. It just seemed mean-spirited. Everyone around me was groaning,” Schlapp said on CNN Monday.
“There was nobody who watched her monologue who would think it was somehow balanced,” Schlapp said on CNN regarding Wolf’s Saturday routine.
Schlapp added that Wolf’s jokes about abortion were a key reason why he left.
“For me the worst part, I would have to say… I think the jokes about abortion for my wife and I were particularly just galling and shocking,” Schlapp said, quoting some of her jokes on the topic. “I mean it was just repulsive, it’s not funny. I mean, you can have your views on abortion, but I don’t think anybody thinks it’s funny.”