With many on the right befuddled over why President Donald Trump would opt to attack the late Sen. John McCain, who can’t fight back, the president explained just why that is in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
“You spent a good portion of your time in Ohio the other day trashing John McCain. Senator John McCain is dead. Why are you doing this?” asked Bartiromo, the host of “Mornings with Maria.”
Trump began with what should be obvious to most, but is being downplayed in the media, who have suddenly become staunch defenders of McCain, a public figure who was central to many policy decisions while in the Senate.
And it’s no secret that many on the right despised McCain, going back to his refusal to truly challenge former President Barack Obama in the 2008 election — even as the same media that destroyed him back then is now in his corner to make Trump look bad.
“So it’s not a good portion of my time; it’s a very small portion,” the president replied, to correct Bartiromo’s assertion. “But if you realize about three days ago that it came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier — it was a fake, it was a fraud, it was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They gave it to John McCain, who gave it to the FBI, for very evil purposes. That’s not good.”
While the role of the largely discredited Steel dossier is also being downplayed, with a heavy media assist, following that decision was the formation of a special counsel led by Robert Mueller to investigate alleged collusion with Russia.
Trump also said McCain failed to support GOP legislation considered a skinny repeal of Obamacare, even though “he’s been campaigning for years for repeal and replace.”
“I’m not a fan,” the president admitted. “After all of this time, think of this repeal and replace, we would have had great healthcare.”
Again, Bartiromo stressed that McCain is deceased.
“But Mr. President, he’s dead, he can’t punch back,” she said. “I know you punch back, but he’s dead.
“No. I don’t talk about it. People ask me the question,” he replied. “I didn’t bring this up. You just brought it up. You asked the question.”
When the Fox Business Network host pointed out that he talked about McCain this week, Trump said it was only because of media questions — not that he shied away from again expressing how he really feels.
“When I went out yesterday to the scrum — they asked me the question,” he said. “When they ask me the question, I answer the question. But you people bring it up. I don’t bring it up. I’m not a fan. He was horrible, what he did with repeal and replace. It was — what he did to the Republican Party and to the nation and to sick people that could have had great healthcare, it’s not good. So I’m not a fan of John McCain, and that’s fine.”
“I have a very, a very serious issue,” he would later add, talking about McCain. “He handed something to the FBI on me. He knew it was a fake. He handed it to the FBI. That’s an issue.”
As for the criticism, Bartiromo’s colleague at the network, Lou Dobbs, defended the president’s attacks against McCain.
Dobbs said Wednesday it was “asinine” for Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hit Trump for his criticism of McCain.
“There’s a reason for those nasty remarks!” he said. “There’s a history between those two men.
His remarks created a stir and Dobbs addressed it Thursday on “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” pointing out several media outlets reporting that he was defending Trump.
“I do, I did, and I will,” he said, doubling down. “As I said, the president is speaking out about what he sees as betrayal by Sen. McCain when he voted against the repeal of Obamacare.”
Dobbs stressed later that the criticism of McCain in about his political record — which is and should be fair game.
“This party is not united around this president,” Dobbs said. “You talk about John McCain being dead — I don’t think that in any way… it is not an exhumation of his body for God sake! It is a review of his record as a politician. Not as a war hero 35 years ago, 40 years ago. It is an honest assessment of who he was and what he did. And what he did is as clear as a bell.”
But just as Bartiromo seemed to take issue with President Trump’s remarks about the late Arizona Republican, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade, who does not hesitate to criticize the president, was also not pleased.
Taking note of a speech Trump gave in Ohio, where the president said he didn’t get a thank you from the McCain family for signing off on his state funeral, and the ongoing feud with counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband, Kilmeade could make no sense of it all.
“The problem is he swamped his own message by going after George Conway and in that speech, inexplicably, going after John McCain,” he said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”
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