White House planned to hide USS John McCain from Trump, claims report

White House officials issued a directive to the US Navy to move a ship bearing the name of an outspoken rival of Donald Trump out of the president’s view during his recent trip to Japan, a US paper reported on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal cited an email between US military officials containing the instruction to move the USS John S. McCain from its moorings near another ship on which Trump was to give a speech on Tuesday.

The newspaper said a tarpaulin was laid over the ship’s name ahead of Trump’s trip, showing a picture taken before his arrival, though a spokesman for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet said it was later taken down.

News agencies cited officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that the request to keep the ship out of sight had been made, but that the directive had been scrapped by senior Navy officials.

The newspaper report was also denied by the Navy’s press office, albeit in the first social media utterance from the @CHINFO account in well over five years.

Navy Chief of Information Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, responding to comments questioning the resurrection of a long-dormant account, conceded, “This is not how I had planned to reactivate the CHINFO twitter account. And yet, here we are.”

The USS John S. McCain has been moored at the Yokosuka US naval base for repairs after suffering damage in a 2017 collision.

President Trump has denied knowing anything about plans to move the ship.

“I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan,” he wrote on Twitter.

John McCain was a highly respected Republican figure in US politics who withdrew his support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election and stood in the way of the president’s efforts to undermine his predecessor Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms. McCain, who died in August aged 81, even said before his death that he did not want Trump to attend his funeral.

Trump, in his turn, has been known to mock McCain’s reputation as a hero of the Vietnam War, something that the president’s critics see as all the more inappropriate in view of the fact that the president himself never served in the military.

The president’s rivalry with McCain seems not to have ended even with the latter’s death, with Trump saying in March: “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.”

McCain’s daughter Meghan said in a tweet on Wednesday evening that Trump was a “child” who continued to be threatened by her father’s reputation, and spoke of the grief caused her by the president’s ongoing slights.

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