171213-N-VA840-004 TOKYO BAY, Japan (Dec. 13, 2017) – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is towed to the pier at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka. John S. McCain will undergo repairs at Ship Repair Facility Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka. (U. S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leonard Adams Jr. /Released)
During his trip to Japan, it was reported that the White House ordered that the USS John McCain be obscured from President Donald Trump’s view. As Elizabeth Vaughn reported earlier Thursday, an article covering the matter by the Wall Street Journal set off a firestorm of outrage directed primarily at Trump, who many thought ordered the ship’s name be covered.
This outraged included a tweet from Meghan McCain, who called Trump a “child.”
However, Trump has claimed that he had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to do that, first by tweeting out his innocence on Wednesday.
“I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan,” tweeted Trump. “Nevertheless, [Melania Trump] and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!”
I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
On Thursday, Trump reiterated his innocence during an interview with the press.
“I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t involved. I would not have done that,” Trump told reporters.
“I was very angry with John McCain because he killed healthcare,” he continued. “I was not a big fan of John McCain in any shape or form.”
Trump continued by saying that McCain had a lot to do with Bush taking us into the Middle East, saying it was a “catastrophe.” However, Trump made it clear that though he wasn’t a fan of McCain, he’d never “do a thing like that.”
Trump then gave his thoughts on what he thinks happened.
“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like them. OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I never would have done that,” he said.
President Trump: "To me, John McCain — I wasn't a fan, but I would never do a thing like that. Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn't like them. OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say." https://t.co/33VjC7bl2o pic.twitter.com/4wmp8ZEV1Q
— The Hill (@thehill) May 30, 2019
According to Fox News, the tarp was apparently there on Friday, but was taken down on Saturday:
Photos reviewed by the news outlet reportedly showed that a tarp was placed over the ship’s name before Trump’s arrival. But Navy Cmdr. Clay Doss, spokesman for the Navy’s 7th Fleet, said in a statement that the photo of the tarp “is from Friday and it was taken down on Saturday.”
“Paint barge was also removed ahead of the visit,” Doss added. “All ships remained in normal configuration during the President’s visit.”
This claim by Doss was also backed up by Rear Adm. Charlie Brown according to Fox:
Additionally, Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, Navy public affairs officer, tweeted Wednesday night that McCain’s name on the ship “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.”
The Journal reported, based on people familiar with the matter, that sailors on the USS John S. McCain, who usually wear hats with the ship’s name on it, were given the day off when Trump visited.