White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday said special assistant Kelly Sadler remains at her job after making fun of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for having brain cancer and refused to apologize or answer questions about Sadler’s remark.
Sanders refused to address the controversy on Friday amid growing calls for Sadler to publicly apologize or to be fired, saying it was a staff matter.
“I’m not going to validate a leak, one way or another, out of an internal staff meeting,” Sanders told reporters during her Friday press briefing.
In a closed-door White House meeting on Thursday, special assistant Kelly Sadler dismissed McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s CIA nominee, saying, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, criticized the comments and questioned why Sadler was still working at the White House. Sadler called Meghan McCain to apologize after her remarks were published.
Former Vice President Joe Biden called the report “rock bottom” for the Trump administration, while Republican Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) called on the White House and Sadler to issue a public apology.
Sanders defended the president’s conduct when asked by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason if Trump sets “a tone at the top” that gives staffers permission to feel that they can make derisive comments about Trump’s political opponents.
“There is not a tone set here. We have respect for all Americans and that’s what we try to put forward in everything we do, both in word and in action,” Sanders said.
Sanders added that Trump “supports all Americans” and is “working hard to make this country better.”
During a 2015 interview, Trump said John McCain is “not a war hero” even though he was captured and tortured during the Vietnam War.
He added that “he was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders calls White House mocking of dying Sen. John McCain a leak and refuses to comment on it. pic.twitter.com/Uxrn0uwfbj
— Rogelio Garcia Lawyer (@LawyerRogelio) May 11, 2018