It’s been two days since Senator John McCain died, yet, in a break from tradition, flags at the White House are back at full-staff, and observers are outraged.
“Donald Trump is a pathetic, thin-skinned, self-centered, low-class, petty coward,” political action committee VoteVets tweeted Monday in response to the White House’s full-staff flag.
NBC News vet Tom Brokaw called Trump’s actions in the hours following McCain’s death “a disgrace.”
White House flags were lowered to half-staff on Saturday but put back up to full-staff on Monday, according to multiple media reports, including The Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, flags at the U.S. Capitol remained at half-staff to honor the late Senator.
“The White House flag this morning: Any other president would order flags at half-staff to honor a senator, war hero and bipartisan legend like John McCain,” Poynter contributing editor David Beard wrote on Twitter.
NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett added, “The flags at the White House are back at full staff this morning. Traditionally, sitting senators who die in office have flags lowered in their honor from date of death until burial. And we’ve received no presidential proclamation for McCain.”
And TV personality Montel Williams tweeted, “Mr. President, lower that flag for John McCain. @realDonaldTrump, if you can’t step outside your own alternate reality where everything is about Trump, go back to New York and do the Apprentice.”
It is customary to fly flags at half-staff at all federal buildings and naval vessels for a senator on the day of death and the day after. Many outlets reported Monday that the fact that the White House rose its flag from half staff in less than 48 hours following McCain’s passing is a clear break from the longstanding tradition.
The U.S. Flag Code states that flags should be lowered “on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.” But sitting presidents can issue a proclamation to extend that period. When Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts died in 2009, for example, former President Barack Obama ordered the flags to be at half-staff for five days, according to The Times.
“Yes, the flag code doesn’t require the White House to lower the American flag until John McCain’s interment. But decency does,” Andy Lassner, executive producer on “The Ellen Show” tweeted.
According to The Washington Post, President Trump declined to read a statement drafted by Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Kelly, which praised McCain, and instead wanted to send a tweet. CBS News’ Mark Knoller noted that Trump did not issue a formal proclamation on McCain’s death.
Trump posted on Twitter on Saturday, writing, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
On Monday, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl said he asked Trump about McCain in the Oval Office, but received no response.
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) August 27, 2018
Former Republican presidential candidate McCain died of cancer on Saturday. He was 81. In July 2017, McCain underwent cranial surgery to remove a blood clot near his eye, and subsequent pathology revealed a brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. While continuing cancer treatment, he was hospitalized with a viral infection in December and again last spring with diverticulitis. Friday his family announced that the senator, “with his usual strength of will,” had “chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”
The White House has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.
See reactions below.
pres trump – you are commander in chief by law, duty bound to honor sen mccain
ignoring his death is a disgrace
— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) August 27, 2018
If you are outraged by the NFL players “disrespecting the troops & flag” by kneeling, but don’t have a problem with Trump refusing to allow the WH to release a statement honoring John McCain's service or fly the flag at half mast, you're a racist.
— Denizcan Grimes (@MrFilmkritik) August 27, 2018
Donald Trump refuses to lower flag, for John McCain.
As we said yesterday, Donald Trump is a pathetic, thin-skinned, self-centered, low-class, petty coward. https://t.co/g1eGCLxMVf
— VoteVets (@votevets) August 27, 2018
The White House flag this morning: Any other president would order flags at half-staff to honor a senator, war hero and bipartisan legend like John McCain https://t.co/0Cmhtc8kFW pic.twitter.com/bvE0YAo6J3
— David Beard (@dabeard) August 27, 2018
Since President Trump and this disgraceful White House won’t fly flag at half mast for John McCain I will do this for them. pic.twitter.com/mtozRncQJ3
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) August 27, 2018
Kneeling football players have nothing to do with military respect.
Raising the flag to full staff, while refusing to issue a presidential proclamation for former POW. John McCain, while attacking Gold-Star families, has everything to do with Military respect
WAKE UP AMERICA!
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) August 27, 2018
The flags at the White House are back at full staff this morning. Traditionally, sitting senators who die in office have flags lowered in their honor from date of death until burial. And we've received no presidential proclamation for McCain.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) August 27, 2018
Dear @SecPompeo: You served on active duty. As a nation mourns McCain, it would be appropriate to lower the flag to half staff at all @StateDept buildings. I respectfully request you give that order, regardless of the views of @realDonaldTrump. It is the honorable thing to do. https://t.co/yIllKANhMq
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 27, 2018
Yes, the flag code doesn’t require the White House to lower the American flag until John McCain’s interment.
But decency does.
— andy lassner (@andylassner) August 27, 2018
Mr. President, lower that flag for John McCain. @realDonaldTrump, if you can’t step outside your own alternate reality where everything is about Trump, go back to New York and do the Apprentice. https://t.co/LDaO9pAqy3
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) August 27, 2018
Trump has declined to lower the White House flag to honor John McCain. Obama ordered flags at half-staff more than any other president, which I wrote about a few years ago: https://t.co/dUMhR4cu7K
— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) August 27, 2018
White House flag is no longer at half-staff in the wake of John McCain’s death but the 50 flags encircling the Washington Monument are. pic.twitter.com/OX5qqx72K8
— Amanda Macias (@amanda_m_macias) August 27, 2018
Flag back at full staff atop WH. Pres Trump did not issue proclamation on the death of @SenJohnMcCain, which usually calls for flags to remain at half-staff through the day of interment, which is Sunday at the @NavalAcademy. pic.twitter.com/NGasNPT0VB
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 27, 2018