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White House Flags Return to Full Staff Well Before John McCain’s Memorial Services

WASHINGTON — The American flags flying at the White House returned to full staff on Monday, less than 48 hours after the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and well before memorial services later this week.

The flag was lowered to half staff following McCain’s death on Saturday, and President Donald Trump made a statement on Twitter.

“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” he wrote on Saturday night.

Trump has yet to issue a formal proclamation following McCain’s death, as presidents in the past have done at the passing of national political figures and military heroes. Trump issued a proclamation upon the death of the Rev. Billy Graham in February that ordered flags on all federal buildings at half staff on Graham’s day of interment.

As he announced a new trade deal with Mexico from the Oval Office on Monday, Trump declined to answer repeated questions about McCain from reporters.

Flags at the Capitol remained at half staff.

Matt House, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), said that the senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have “requested that the [Department of Defense] provide necessary support so that U.S. flags on all government buildings remain at half mast through sunset on the day of Senator McCain’s interment.”

McCain’s interment is scheduled for Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

He will lie in state at the Arizona state capitol on Wednesday, and a funeral will take place in Phoenix on Thursday. He will then lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, followed by public viewing. Following a procession by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, McCain’s casket will be taken to Washington National Cathedral for funeral services. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have reportedly been invited to deliver eulogies.

Trump has criticized McCain at rallies, and continued to target him even as the Arizona senator went through treatments for brain cancer. McCain’s vote last summer against a Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act ensured the defeat of one of Trump’s signature policy initiatives.

In 2015, in the opening months of his presidential campaign, Trump mocked McCain’s service in the Vietnam war and time as a POW. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump told an Iowa audience.

McCain at times spoke out against Trump, and declined to support him in the 2016 election. After Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, McCain said in a statement, “The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Trump rejected his staff’s proposals that the White House issue a statement praising McCain’s service. Instead, he sent a tweet that did not directly praise McCain.

A number of White House correspondents noted that the flag was returned to full staff.

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