White House can't stop controversy over staffer's John McCain comment

The White House hoped Monday to put to rest a five-day controversy over a crass remark about Sen. John McCain. But th...

Posted: May 15, 2018 7:18 AM
Updated: May 15, 2018 7:18 AM

The White House hoped Monday to put to rest a five-day controversy over a crass remark about Sen. John McCain. But the matter seemed poised to continue festering as the staffer in question, Kelly Sadler, declined to offer a public apology for saying the Arizona Republican is "dying anyway."

Instead, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Sadler's remark -- made last week during an internal staff meeting -- had been "dealt with internally" and wouldn't comment further.

Over the weekend, a number of Republican lawmakers and officials expressed puzzlement at how the White House could allow Sadler's remark to go without a public apology.

In a phone call last week, Sadler called the senator's daughter Meghan McCain to apologize. In that conversation, Sadler indicated she would issue a public apology as well, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

But such a public acknowledgment of regret hasn't yet come forward, spurring the story into another week.

"This is an internal matter. It's being addressed internally and I don't have anything further to add," Shah told reporters at Monday's press briefing. He added later that Sadler remains a White House employee, and that she had come to work on Monday.

Political figures have condemned the remark, including many Republicans. Speaking Sunday on CBS, Sen. Lindsey Graham -- a South Carolina Republican who's a close friend to McCain -- said he wanted someone in the White House to denounce the remark publicly.

"If it was a joke, it was a terrible joke. I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate, that's not who we are in the Trump administration," he said on "Face the Nation."

Meghan McCain addressed the remark again during Monday's "The View" on ABC, where she is a host.

"People are going to have to answer for their own conscience," she said.

Inside the White House, blame has been cast on the person who leaked the comment rather than on Sadler herself. On Sunday, director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney told Fox News it was a "badly considered joke that she said fell flat," and he bemoaned whoever leaked the internal conversation.

Shah echoed those gripes on Monday, saying it was unfortunate that staffers can't feel comfortable speaking their minds.

"If you aren't able in internal meetings to speak your mind, or convey thoughts, or say anything that you feel without feeling like your colleagues will betray you, that creates a very difficult work environment," he said. "I think anyone who works anywhere would recognize that."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 22464

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7540565
Ramsey2610103
Stearns198412
Nobles14883
Anoka126259
Dakota118244
Olmsted57510
Washington56230
Kandiyohi4751
Rice4112
Clay40625
Scott3792
Todd2960
Wright2691
Sherburne2192
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Carver1852
Benton1692
Steele1480
Martin1265
Blue Earth1221
St. Louis11513
Freeborn970
Pine850
Winona7815
Nicollet747
Carlton730
Cottonwood650
Otter Tail620
Unassigned6110
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Watonwan590
Polk592
Crow Wing571
Itasca537
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Rock210
Swift170
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Fillmore171
Wabasha170
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Sibley130
Cass122
Norman110
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Marshall90
Pope80
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Red Lake40
Traverse30
Big Stone30
Clearwater30
Redwood30
Grant30
Lac qui Parle30
Houston20
Lake10
Hubbard10
Roseau10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 18342

Reported Deaths: 496
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3876115
Woodbury265831
Black Hawk171343
Linn93876
Marshall87815
Dallas87317
Buena Vista6820
Johnson6058
Muscatine54741
Wapello5384
Crawford4882
Tama40026
Scott34610
Louisa33610
Dubuque33016
Jasper25716
Pottawattamie2277
Sioux2100
Washington1858
Wright1240
Allamakee1194
Plymouth1191
Warren1140
Story961
Poweshiek888
Mahaska888
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines581
Boone560
Taylor480
Cedar461
Guthrie443
Clarke400
Benton391
Jones360
Iowa360
Monroe354
Shelby350
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Osceola310
Marion300
Webster291
Hamilton280
Madison261
Fayette260
Monona240
Lee230
Cherokee230
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Lyon190
Grundy190
Floyd181
Sac170
Mills160
Hardin150
Butler150
Delaware150
Humboldt140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Hancock140
Appanoose133
Jackson130
Dickinson130
Clay130
Greene130
Howard120
Audubon121
Winnebago110
Cass110
Page100
Van Buren90
Franklin90
Carroll90
Pocahontas90
Chickasaw80
Emmet80
Unassigned80
Kossuth80
Adair70
Adams70
Lucas70
Union60
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
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