The Trump White House instructed the U.S. Navy to make sure a warship named for late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would be “out of sight” during President Trump’s visit to Japan over the weekend when he addressed officers on Memorial Day from a ship stationed nearby, according to an email obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
In a May 15 email to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official that included the directive: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.”
“Please confirm #3 will be satisfied,” the official wrote in the email.
According to the Journal, when a Navy commander expressed surprise about the directive, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official replied: “First I heard of it as well.”
Officials, including Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, were aware of the concern about the USS John McCain and approved measures so that it would not be visible during Trump’s visit, an official told the newspaper.
The ship has been stationed at the Yokosuka Naval Base near the USS Wasp, where Trump delivered Memorial Day remarks and visited U.S. officers. The ship is being repaired after a 2017 collision, and any ship undergoing such repair or maintenance would be difficult to move, officials said.
Before Trump delivered his address, a tarp was hung over the USS John McCain’s name and sailors were reportedly directed to remove any coverings that showed the ship’s name.
NEW: The White House wanted the USS John McCain “out of sight” for Trump’s visit to Japan. A tarp was hung over the ship’s name ahead of the trip, and sailors—who wear caps bearing the ship’s name—were given the day off for Trump’s visit. w/@gluboldhttps://t.co/6ugPceCOre pic.twitter.com/KuIoWJK5Kt
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) May 29, 2019
A barge was also reportedly moved near the ship to make it harder to see its name from the USS Wasp.
The newspaper also reported that sailors on the ship, who normally wear caps with its name, were given the day off when Trump gave his address.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump attacked McCain’s military service in Vietnam, saying he was “not a war hero” and that “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump recently complained about not receiving a “thank you” for approving funeral arrangements for McCain.
Admiral John S. McCain Sr. commanded the Fast Carrier Task Force in WWII. Admiral John S. McCain Jr. served as CINCPAC. Captain John S. McCain III served in the Senate. The ship’s name honors all three, who served their country in war and in peace. It was covered with a tarp. https://t.co/0LAYArTevK
— Yoni Appelbaum (@YAppelbaum) May 30, 2019