Trump jokes Sarah Sanders had a "nervous breakdown" over his response to John McCain's death

The president taunts his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and defends his handling of McCain's death

By Matthew Rozsa
Published August 31, 2018 10:38AM (EDT)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Donald Trump (Getty/Salon)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Donald Trump (Getty/Salon)

President Donald Trump is defending his controversial response to the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

During a wide ranging interview with Bloomberg, Trump defended himself from accusations that he had been disrespectful to McCain after his passing, from prematurely raising the White House flag from half staff to sending a brief tweet of condolence after McCain's death instead of issuing a statement that had already been written up for the purpose.

Yet when speaking to Bloomberg, Trump insisted that he had done wrong — and that, in fact, he had been respectful toward McCain.

"No, I don’t think I did at all. I’ve done everything that they requested and no, I don’t think I have at all," Trump told Bloomberg when pressed on the matter.

He also characterized his relationship with McCain as contentious and marred by disagreements.

"We had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in," Trump explained during the interview.

Surprisingly for a Republican president, he also refused to say whether he thought McCain or Barack Obama would have been a better president had they been elected in 2008.

READ MORE: In the wake of Mollie Tibbetts' death, don't blame immigrants for murder. Blame men

"I don’t want to comment on it. I have a very strong opinion, all right," Trump said.

Apparently Trump's press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was staring at Trump during the interview and looked distressed by his remarks, prompting the president to joke that she looked like she was "having a nervous breakdown."

Trump's feud with McCain stretches back to the 2016 presidential election cycle, when Trump infamously said that he didn't view McCain as a was hero because he'd been captured. Later during the election, McCain withdrew his endorsement from Trump after an "Access Hollywood" tape was released that showed Trump bragging about committing sexual assault.

McCain also publicly disagreed with Trump on a number of occasions during his presidency, from calling out the president's nationalistic foreign policy as dangerous to famously voting with a thumbs down to tank the president's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as Obamacare).

Senate Republicans are trying a last-ditch Obamacare repeal

How Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare in late 2017

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump John Mccain Sarah Huckabee Sanders