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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314509

Reported Deaths: 7247
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21626259
Hinds20359415
Harrison17934309
Rankin13634278
Jackson13447246
Madison10099217
Lee9980174
Jones8381163
Forrest7683152
Lauderdale7191241
Lowndes6401147
Lamar623086
Lafayette6200118
Washington5339134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462798
Panola4588107
Pearl River4512146
Marshall4443103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420772
Monroe4113133
Union411076
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3968110
Hancock379386
Leflore3497125
Sunflower336090
Tate334084
Pike3325105
Scott315973
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311669
Itawamba300477
Copiah297065
Coahoma295479
Simpson295288
Tippah288768
Adams286882
Prentiss279760
Marion269280
Leake268373
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259681
George248048
Newton246861
Winston227281
Tishomingo226967
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw207857
Holmes189173
Clay185454
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178841
Clarke178080
Calhoun170832
Yalobusha164338
Smith162434
Walthall133945
Greene130633
Lawrence128624
Montgomery126942
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83823
Quitman80916
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67331
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
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