Lifelong public servant Senator John McCain is being memorialized today at a service in the Washington National Cathedral. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will both eulogize the fallen statesman at the event, which is expected to be attended by many of Washington's most high-profile political figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton. And yet, there will be one notable exception among the lauded names in attendance.
The news broke earlier this week that sitting president Donald Trump would not be in attendance at the invitation-only ceremony, as per the late senator's request. Washington Post journalist Justin Jouvenal reported on Twitter earlier this week that, "Spokesman for John McCain said President Trump will not be attending the Arizona senator's funeral."
McCain, who died Saturday after a year-long battle with brain cancer, was a well-known to have a hostile relationship with the current president, who had on several occasions been critical of the senator's for having been taken and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam between 1967 and 1973. Never one to shy away from pushing back against the party line, McCain developed a reputation as a "maverick" during his time in office and openly disagreed with Trump on a number of political issues.
“I think it’s fair to say that they have a very different view of this country and what this country means, here and abroad,” said Mark Salter, the senator’s longtime friend and co-author.
The division was strong enough that McCain, who reportedly played an active role in the planning of his funeral (the request that both Obama and Bush speak at the event reportedly came directly from the senator) asked that Trump not attend the services for his memorial.
Though the cathedral is traditionally a place where political divisions are set aside-Bush, Obama, and the Clinton's were seen to shake hands and greet genially before the services commenced-Trump was expected to spend the weekend at Camp David avoiding the public eye. That hasn't stopped the president from spending some time on social media, though. Indeed, the famously social media active politician spent much of the morning leading up to McCain's memorial service tweeting-a behavior that has been called out by multiple sources.
NYT this week: During McCain memorial, Trump will be at Camp David “where White House aides hope he will contain his anger at the attention being lavished on Mr. McCain” https://t.co/lpTC9oLQWV
Trump this morning as many in Washington gather for the McCain memorial service pic.twitter.com/GkrrIoIu8u
- Mark Berman (@markberman) September 1, 2018
NBC News reports that McCain's former running mate Sarah Palin was also not invited to the ceremony. A "Palin family source" also told Kelly O'Donnell, "Out of respect to Senator McCain and his family we have nothing to add at this point. The Palin family will always cherish their friendship with the McCains and hold those memories dear."
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