White House aide Kelly Sadler attends a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. Picture taken March 22, 2018.REUTERS/Leah Millis
The White House communications aide accused of making a morbid comment about Sen. John McCain’s physical condition has left the White House, principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement.
In May, special assistant Kelly Sadler reportedly took exception to McCain’s criticism of President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, by dismissing his opinion and saying “he’s dying anyway.”
McCain, who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, said in his new book: “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here,” but he has remained politically engaged during his treatment.
Sadler’s comment drew swift rebuke from lawmakers on both sides, including from Vice President Joe Biden last month: “People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration,” Biden said at the time.
Amid the ensuing fallout, Trump convened a meeting with officials and reportedly asked Sadler who leaked the comment to the media. Sadler reportedly blamed her boss, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp, who rebuffed Sadler’s accusations.
Trump reportedly told Salder that he would not fire her, and criticized the leaks instead. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed the sentiment: “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too,” Sanders said, according to Axios. “And that’s just disgusting.”
The White House did not publicly denounce Sadler’s remark about McCain but asserted that it respects “McCain’s service to our nation.”