White House

Trump aide reportedly said John McCain's view on CIA pick 'doesn't matter' because 'he's dying anyway'

Key Points
  • A White House official dismissed a view expressed by Sen. John McCain about President Donald Trump's CIA nominee.
  • Kelly Sadler said "it doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway."
  • Sadler was discussing McCain's opposition to Trump's pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel, when she made the comment.
White House aide dismissed McCain view, saying ‘he’s dying’: AP

Meghan McCain, television co-host and daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave a stinging response Friday to a White House official who reportedly said at a staff meeting that his opposition to a Trump administration nominee "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway."

"I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you could come to work the next day and still have a job," McCain said on "The View" Friday.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The official, Kelly Sadler, made the comment while discussing McCain's opposition to Trump's pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel, according to two people who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The two people who attended the closed-door meeting told the AP they felt shocked and stunned by the remark.

In a statement, White House did not dispute that Sadler made the comment at the meeting.

"We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time," said the White House's statement.

The Hill newspaper first reported Sadler's comment.

McCain: Trump 'often poorly informed' and 'impulsive,' and Congress doesn't 'answer to' him

Sadler's remarks surfaced shortly after Thomas McInerney, a guest on Fox Business Network, sparked a backlash by claiming torture methods of interrogation "worked" on McCain.

"The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That's why they call him 'Songbird John,'" McInerney said on-air Thursday morning.

McCain was a Navy pilot who was beaten in captivity during the Vietnam War.

Charles Payne, who interviewed McInerney when he made the comments, did not challenge the analyst at the time. The host later issued an apology on Twitter.

Mediaite reported Friday that Fox News had cut ties with McInerney, citing a spokesperson for the network.

Sadler later called McCain's daughter, to apologize for her slights against the 81-year-old Arizona senator, a source told The Hill.

Meghan did not respond to CNBC's request for comment.

McCain, who has spent three decades in the Senate, was diagnosed in July with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He left Washington in December and underwent surgery last month for an infection.

Sadler is a special assistant to the president. She did not respond to the request for comment Thursday evening.

McCain's wife, Cindy, responded to both attacks on her husband in a pair of tweets Thursday.

The ailing senator has urged his colleagues to reject Haspel. He said Wednesday that he believes she's a patriot who loves the country but "her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying."

Haspel faced grilling Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee about her role overseeing some CIA operations after the Sept. 11 attacks. She told senators that she doesn't believe torture works as an interrogation technique.

As for the president, he and McCain have had a troubled relationship.

As a GOP presidential candidate in 2015, Trump said McCain was "not a war hero" because he was captured in Vietnam, adding, "I like people who weren't captured."

Last July, McCain became the deciding vote against the GOP health care repeal with a dramatic thumbs-down. Trump later told the Conservative Political Action Conference that "except for one Senator, who came into a room at three o'clock in the morning and went like that" — Trump gave a thumbs-down — "we would have had health care (reform), too."

The crowd booed, and Trump added, "I won't use his name."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.