President Trump will not be attending the funeral of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who died Saturday after battling brain cancer, an aide for the senator said in a press conference on Monday afternoon.
“The president will not be, as far as we know, attending the funeral, and that’s just a fact,” Rick Davis told reporters during a briefing in Phoenix.
Trump and McCain had been rivals ever since Trump blasted McCain’s status as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War while Trump was running for president, and their relationship only grew more acrimonious after Trump won the White House in 2016.
McCain famously helped preserve the Affordable Care Act in a Senate vote last year, blocking Trump’s legislative goals of dismantling the health care law.
Before McCain died, he requested that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama speak at his funeral. Both men defeated McCain in presidential campaigns.
Since McCain’s death, Trump nixed a White House statement that would have honored McCain’s military record and career as a lawmaker. Instead, Trump issued a brief Twitter post: ‘‘My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
And on Monday, flags at the White House were raised back to full staff, less than 48 hours after McCain died. (By comparison, Obama ordered flags at the White House be flown at half-staff for five days following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009.)
At the press conference Monday, Davis also read a final letter from McCain that expressed the late senator’s deep gratitude and love of country, and offered words of wisdom to his fellow Americans.
In the statement, McCain reflected on the privilege of serving his country and said he tried to do so honorably. He also touched on today’s politics.
‘‘Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,’’ McCain wrote. ‘‘Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.’’
McCain will lie in state at the Arizona State Capitol and at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., this week before his burial on Sunday at the US Naval Academy.