May 15, 2018, 4:08 PM ET

Senate Republicans don't press Trump on McCain insult during meeting

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Despite some Senate Republicans expressing anger over a derogatory comment made by a White House aide about their colleague, GOP Sen. John McCain, they didn't raise the issue with President Donald Trump during a luncheon Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

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"No, the issue didn't come up," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said when reporters pressed him on whether he encouraged the president to urge the staffer to apologize.

"Well, the person who said that should apologize and should apologize publicly," McConnell said.

"The president was in a very good mood, and really quite funny," McConnell said on the overall tone of the meeting.

GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said it wasn't the right time or place to raise the issue with Trump.

"This wasn't that kind of meeting," Kennedy said. "I think the comments were rude, crude and unconscionable. And I think the staffer ought to apologize and the administration ought to apologize. But this was not that kind of meeting."

Earlier, on his way into the luncheon, Trump ignored a reporter's question asking if he were going to apologize to McCain.

Last week, White House aide Kelly Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the next CIA Director didn't matter because he’s “dying anyway," multiple White House officials confirmed to ABC News.

Sadler has still not apologized publicly.

The senator's daughter, Meghan McCain, said on ABC's "The View" that she asked Sadler to publicly apologize and she agreed to it, but "I have not spoken to her since and I assume that it will never come."

Senate Republicans have been openly fuming about Sadler's comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that McCain’s family is owed respect and an apology.

"If I had said that, I would apologize,” Grassley said.

McCain’s closest ally in the Senate – GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – called the comment “disgusting.”

“It's [a] pretty disgusting thing to say, if it was a joke, it was a terrible joke,” Graham said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

“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.”

When was asked if President Trump should apologize for the comment: "I'll leave that up to him, but if something happened like that in my office -- somebody in my office said such a, such a thing about somebody, I would apologize on behalf of the office,” Graham said.

GOP Rep. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska tweeted on Sunday: “As to the White House official who offered such an insult, she should show some respect and apologize.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the controversy from the Senate floor on Monday. He mounted an impassioned defense of McCain and called him a “genuine American hero.”

"We had some laughs and even reminisced about the battles; sometimes we were on the same side, and sometimes we weren’t," McConnell said. "But one thing about our colleague, John McCain -- you’d rather be on his side than not."

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised McCain’s legacy in a pre-taped interview with HLN last week, and said McCain is a “hero” who has helped “save our military.”

"His legacy is so long that John McCain is a hero to us and John McCain all of our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family right now at this time," Ryan said.

Multiple White House officials told ABC News that press secretary Sarah Sanders scolded her press and communications team on Friday morning for the leak. Sanders called the comment "unacceptable,” senior White House officials confirmed. Sadler, who was at the meeting, did not apologize to her colleagues for the comment.

A senior White House official told ABC News they don't expect Sadler will be fired.

"She had no intent. She said something she shouldn't have said and apologized to the family right away," according to a White House official.

ABC News’ Mark Osborne, Tara Palmeri, Ali Rogin, and Ben Siegel contributed to this report.

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  • lou g

    Oh well. Like Trump, like staffers. They say whatever they want and don't apologize. Has Trump ever apoligized for any of his trash talking?

  • BurmeseDude

    Not one condemnation from the president regarding the whole situation because he feels the same way as the WH member and she will not suffer any consequence for what she said.

    This group of GOP lawmakers know about Trump's disdain for McCain and because of that, they didn't press on it. These GOP members have no courage, no soul, having sold them to the devil for SC judge positions and tax break laws they wanted.

    If you're a republican, the party has left you.

  • Bryan Thompson

    Cowards. Party before country after all. The republican't way.

  • Karolyn Lapka

    NO COURAGE There are 3 co equal branches of governent. No one in that room had the political courage to speak up to trump. So, they have given up their power and handed it to trump! That is NOT what they were elcected to do. If we wanted a monarchy we would still be a British colony!! No one in the Legislative branch had the courage of conviction and they all left McClain out to dry. Then I don't want them blubbering on Tv when they can't talk to trump in person. Is everyone afraid of trump??????????

  • Store Owner

    Why should Trump apologize, He did not say it, and she apologized to McCain and his family privately. . Both sides have said bad stuff about Trump and haven't heard any apologies. Sen McCain is a patriot , yet he isn't any better than you or me , and this elitist attitude from the left is ridiculous, when more important issues are on the table which might effect the normal American citizen. .

  • b rubble

    No one else would apologize either.. because no one else would of done anything so deplorable, well except, maybe tRump.

  • b rubble

    "The president was in a very good mood, and really quite funny," McConnell said on the overall tone of the meeting.

    GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said it wasn't the right time or place to raise the issue with Trump.

    What is Donald a child? They didn't want to upset the spoiled brat because he was in a happy place?

  • MauiOhana808

    Weak the GOP are!!!
    Aloha :^D

  • Citizen123

    Spineless as usual. Shame on Senate Republicans to not have John McCain's back!

  • RG

    Being insulting and offensive is Trump's basic nature. He certainly didn't have a problem with the comment and likely agrees.

  • Arc_Fault_One

    I've seen worse comments on here.

  • Andrew

    For this group of republicans in the white house, everything derogatory is appropriate. They are derogatory people. They are nasty, filthy mouthed people who hate everyone and who hate each other. They are hypocrites and liars.

  • Traveler1

    GOP = Gutless Opportunist Pushovers ... at least when it come to Trump. Whatever you think of the Clintons they (particularly she) was hounded like a dog. Trey Goudy and others were deaf, dumb and blind when it came to information showing mistakes may have been made, but they didn't rise to threaten national security or criminal follow-up.

    Now when there's an administration that's show day after day that the only thing they're interested in is amassing wealth and percs for themselves, not to mention demeaning and insulting vast swaths of our population...the vast majority of GOPers are silent. It's a travesty and national embarrassment.

    Not to issue a WH apoligy for the comment(s) regarding John McCain makes one wonder if there's any decency left in the White House. It's my hope that Sen. McCain is able to visit the Senate again and spit in their eye!

  • Kajsa Williams

    The GOP has the moral backbone of an amoeba.

  • Two Cents

    I wonder if those nose rings will leave scars ?

  • TexasVulcan

    Exactly what "kind of meeting" is the right place to tell the President that he does a lousy job of choosing his staff?

  • jake

    I never thought the Senate GOP would be so spineless that they would not support one of their own, a war hero, after being shamelessly drug through the mud by this administration. What a group of cowards. Sad reflection of the Republican men and women in congress today. Would the Democrats have behaved differently? I hope we never find out what it's like to have another "Trump" in the White House representing either party.

  • Oak Kay

    Just one more example of the CRAVEN behavior of the Senate Republicans who are now so cowed by Mad KIng Donald they will not now even stand up to him to defend a dying colleague from such a cowardly and disgusting insult of an American Hero!

  • mikevietvet68/69

    cadet bone spurs has something dirty on all of these republicans and i'd bet the democrats also,they will breathe and sleep much better after the 2020 election and him and the good fellas are shown the exit.

  • mikevietvet68/69

    i post about without papers barletta and you remove me,this abc comment page is really one sided.

  • Samuel Ryan

    Someone should write a book on this GOP congress. How about " Profiles in Cowardice".

  • Yokwyk

    Classless behavior, from people with no class, I'm shocked, shocked I tell ya !

    As bad as it was, it wasn't the worst thing the Trump Administration did last week.
    Did anyone ask Mitch, about Betsy DeVoss relaxing controls on
    For Profit Educational Companies ?
    You know, the ones recently caught ripping off The Federal Government, Vets and Working class people who were trying to better themselves ?
    ( Gee, they weren't over regulated, They were hardly regulated at all ! )

    Stay focused people...
    This administration is going to keep waving shiny objects, in front of us !

  • tet1953

    Conservative surrogates are whining about the press making a big deal out of it. The minute they don't make a big deal out of it is when it becomes normal behavior.

  • kritikosman

    What a pathetic Group OF Phonies!

  • Ptah

    Hopefully, after the Midterms, the Democratic Congress will investigate every one of these sorry excuses for human beings for criminal facilitation.

  • Erik Knight

    Did anyone think Trump would apologize? I bet he has not even apologized to Melania for all of his affairs which he calls fake news. Trump is a POOR role model for today's youth: he is a chronic liar, he bullies, he name calls, and he even mocked a journalist with a disability.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Pathetic feckless cowards. Not a single backbone among them let alone a complete spine.

  • Siestasis42

    GOP Gutless

  • Morgan O'Rourke

    Not a single backbone in the bunch.

  • SaveUSA

    Behind closed doors they all hate him.... double standards, back stabber senator... Was making a deal with the opposition in Syria and much more.....

  • Joe Mac Pherson

    "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." - Senator Lindsey Graham.
    YOU'RE WRONG. That statement, and far too many others from Republicans since IQColt45 took office- especially quotes from HIM, since his inauguration, are EXACTLY what the Republican Party is all about, these days. Arrogance, bullying, greed, homophobia, humiliation, insults, lies, racism, religious intolerance, obstruction of the truth, ridicule of the press and denial of facts, on a daily basis, are what you're all about.

  • GarfieldRocks

    I think they were eating lunch.They were probably afraid that if they brought up the subject, he'd start flinging food.

  • Curmudgathrope

    Praying for the best for Senator McCain, his family, friends, and all he holds dear. Even those he has not given up hope on. The WH and Congress, that just do not fathom an honorable man have a chance to learn a rare lesson that comes from exactly this kind of man, but it appears they will squander the chance to improve themselves and continue to fade to even more hopeless drivel and oblivion

  • Educated

    ....Crickets on denouncing insulting an American hero, but Americans exercising their right to protest is wrong?....Lol, typical Trump WH trash.

  • Dave

    This is the new Republican Party. Spineless, gutless and greedy with no morals. This is the Party I left. They will all be voted out soon.

  • THEFred

    Once again, the spineless GOP politicians become Trump's meek little lapdogs!

    Remember back when sniveling little sycophants like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie used to act moral and pretend they were going to "hold Trump accountable" etc.? That was so cute!

  • Chuck

    That's because they were all neutered when Don the Con was elected. It is the epitome of integrity when one stands up to and condemns abhorrent behavior and disrespect, no matter the political party! This Senate and Congress will be remembered for enabling the personal attacks on men of dignity and the vilification of those who have served and protected all of us with their dedication and patriotism. History is being written, and it isn't the Fox News / Breibart version. It will be historical fact. Your grandchildren will have to learn about Hush Money, Indictment, Political Coercion and Pathological Lying. What a fun time!!!

  • BigRead

    Sniveling Republican cowards and this is from a Republican.

  • ROBOTIX JONES

    Vote them out for enabling this kind of shameful behavior from Trump.

  • DG

    Webster's defines spineless invertebrate as Congressional Republican Leadership.

  • Steve1956

    After the meeting it took the cleaning crew 3 hours to get all the brown off mitch' nose.

  • Karolyn Lapka

    Gutless wonders. So interested in self preservation to exhibit any courage of their convictions. So, trump will continue being a slob.

  • pbgd

    When my employees say something bad, they should apologize, but I am not going to apologize for them.

  • Two Cents

    Wonder how massive the WH outrage would be is someone made a "SADLER" comment about Melania's kidneys?

  • mountainlady

    No comments from Republicans because they are spineless and have no morals. You'd think we'd be used to it by now. The foul stench of this administration has contaminated all of Washington.

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    “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.”

    I just wish the Senate Republicans would hold the president accountable when he let's the WH act in such a disgraceful manner. Being silent in a meeting with him then making excuses to the media is a pretty cowardly approach.

  • Two Cents

    Senate Republicans don't press Trump on McCain insult during meeting
    No one expected them to. They are all afraid of old bone spurs.

  • John bailey

    SPINELESS WIMPS!!!!!!!! The fact that Kelly a MARINE did not throw her out the window, is a sign that there are no morals in this administration. Let's move on and see the next stupid thing that comes out of this collection of idiots.

  • peteringa

    So much for respecting one of the best they will ever see. McCain had his faults but he was a very honorable man. Even though I am an independent, I consider myself a McCain Republican. Wanted him for president instead of Dubya.

  • dancer92136

    Unprincipled cowards.

  • Forward forward

    With Republicans it's never the right time to do the right thing. It's too early. It's the wrong venue. It's too late. Always an excuse. Never just doing the right thing.

  • CantStoptheSignal

    I bet they didn't discuss Trump's love for ZTE either...

  • CantStoptheSignal

    Cowards... the whole lot of them.

  • CaliforniaBorn

    Get to business and not the liberal baloney. There are more important items to discuss.

  • Baa

    Did ANYONE think they would mention this? No one on earth did.