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The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain is seen after a collision, in Singapore waters August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood/File Photo

New Documents Reveal White House Wanted USS John McCain ‘Out of Sight’ During Trump Visit

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September 30, 2022

By Jason Leopold (Bloomberg) —

Former President Donald Trump’s White House asked the US Navy to hide a warship named after John McCain on his 2019 visit to Japan, stunning naval officials, newly disclosed government documents confirm. 

In an  email to the US Navy ahead of Trump’s state visit that May, a US Indo-Pacific Command staffer laid out a list of demands including the directive that “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.” The official later followed up with a note saying “Please confirm #3 will be satisfied.” 

The newly disclosed emails reveal that Navy officials asked for names of the individuals who requested the move. One message simply says “This just makes me sad…” while another says “I could see that becoming a Tweet…”

The emails were disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act and add new details to the Wall Street Journal’s previous reporting on some of their contents in late May 2019. Ultimately, the request to hide the ship was rejected, though a tarp was hung over the name, according to the Journal’s report. At the time, Trump denied that he asked for the ship to be hidden, though he said a “well meaning” person appears to have made the request. 

The name of USS John S. McCain was not obscured during the POTUS visit to Yokosuka on Memorial Day. The Navy is proud of that ship, its crew, its namesake and its heritage.— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) May 30, 2019

In June 2019, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan confirmed that the White House Military Office made the request and said the Pentagon did not need to investigate the matter. The ship was also named after McCain’s father and grandfather.

On many occasions, Trump attacked McCain, who died in August 2018. He said the former senator, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was  “not a war hero.” 

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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