There’s a mystery surrounding a supposed U.S. military email that called for the USS John S. McCain to be “out of sight” during President Trump’s visit to U.S. troops that were stationed in Japan. On Wednesday, President Trump and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan denied having any knowledge of the order. The order led to the ship’s name being covered with a tarp, and then being hidden by a pain barge before Trump made his visit during Memorial Day weekend.
Late Wednesday, Trump posted on Twitter, saying: “I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women - what a spectacular job they do!”
Shanahan was in agreeance with the president. A spokesman for Shanahan later said: “Secretary Shanahan was not aware of the directive to move the USS John S McCain nor was he aware of the concern precipitating the directive.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / CC BY 2.0
This statement was in contradiction to a story released by the Wall Street Journal. In the story, an unnamed U.S. official said that Shanahan was “aware of the concern about the presence of the USS John McCain in Japan and approved measures to ensure it didn’t interfere with the president’s visit.”
The existence of the military email, which was sent by an unnamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official to U.S. Navy and Air Force officials, was initially reported by the Journal. According to the newspaper, the orders referring to the USS John S. McCain came from “the White House,” but the official wasn’t named in the story.
The ship in question is named after the father and grandfather of the late U.S. Sen. John S. McCain III. Before McCain died from cancer last year, he was in a lasting feud with President Trump. The release of the Journal story has infuriated Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain and a co-host of “The View.” Meghan McCain is a well-known Trump critic, just like her father.
On Wednesday, Meghan McCain posted a tweet that appeared to insinuate that the order to hide the ship’s name had been a direct order from the president himself. In addition to retweeting the Journal story, Meghan wrote: “Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dads [sic] incredible life. There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won't let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him. It makes my grief unbearable."
Ever since McCain passed, his 34-year-old daughter has been by his side, defending his honor. Two days prior, Meghan McCain pointed her anger in the direction of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a candidate running in the 2020 presidential race.
Recently, Klobuchar claimed that McCain “kept reciting to me names of dictators” during President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, implying that McCain couldn’t stand the thought of President Trump becoming the president. Meghan McCain has stated that she and her family would prefer that her father’s name not be mentioned in the 2020 race. "On behalf of the entire McCain family, [Amy Klobuchar], please be respectful to all of us and leave my father's legacy and memory out of presidential politics,” wrote Meghan McCain.
According to the Journal, the tarp that was covering the name of the USS John S. McCain was removed on Saturday. They also said that the paint barge was moved, as well. But according to Cmdr. Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, both of the obstructions were removed before the president’s arrival.