U.S. President Donald Trump is firing new broadsides at the late-Sen. John McCain, nearly seven months after the one-time prisoner of war in Vietnam died from brain cancer.
In a trio of Twitter comments on Saturday and Sunday, Trump contended the Republican lawmaker helped instigate special counsel Robert Mueller's long-running investigation of links between Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia, and complained again, as he has in the past, about McCain's 2017 vote that doomed Trump's attempted overhaul of national health care policies.
Trump's comments drew a pair of rebukes from McCain's daughter Meghan McCain and some lawmakers.
After the first attack on her late father, she said, "No one will ever love you the way they loved my father.... I wish I had been given more Saturday's with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?"
When Trump launched another attack Sunday, McCain's daughter said, "My father lives rent free in your head," in a tweet that later appeared to have been deleted.
One of McCain's closest friends in the U.S. Senate, Republican Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said, "As to @SenJohnMcCain and his devotion to his country: He stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body. Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished."
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons told ABC News, "I've long thought that his personal and direct attacks on Senator McCain was one of the most detestable things about President Trump's conduct as a candidate," calling on Trump to apologize for his most recent remarks.
Trump quoted former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated former President Bill Clinton two decades ago, as saying on the Fox News network that the fact that a McCain ally shared a dossier with the media that linked Trump to Russia was "unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain."
On Sunday, Trump claimed McCain was "last in his class" at the U.S. Naval Academy and that he had sent the dossier to the media "hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election" on Nov. 8, 2016. "He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!"
Trump's claims were wrong on three counts: McCain was fifth from last in his class of 1958. The senator did not learn of the dossier until 10 days after Trump had won the election and there is no evidence that McCain passed the dossier on to the media although a McCain aide said he did. McCain turned the file over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mueller's investigation has resulted in guilty pleas and convictions of five key Trump aides and the indictment of a sixth.
Trump has long labeled the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and rejected any suggestions that his campaign colluded with Russia to help him win or that, as president, he obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.
The president has long shown his disdain for McCain, a fighter pilot before becoming a politician, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam in the 1960s after being shot down over Hanoi.
Trump, during the early months of his presidential campaign in 2015, disparaged McCain's status as a POW, saying, "He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured."