The White House could have fired the aide who said that the opinion of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is meaningless because he’s “dying anyway.” Instead, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly dressed down the White House communications team for leaking the remark to the press.
Then at least five White House staffers promptly leaked Sanders’ scolding to the media.
That likely came as no surprise to Sanders: “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting,” a furious Sanders said, according to one of five people at the meeting who spoke with Axios. White House officials also leaked details of the meeting to ABC News.
The mess started Thursday at a communications team meeting when aide Kelly Sadler reportedly mocked McCain, who has brain cancer. Referring to McCain’s opposition to the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA chief, Sadler reportedly said, “It doesn’t matter. He’s dying anyway.”
The comment was first reported by The Hill.
White House sources reportedly dismissed Sadler’s comment as a “joke,” and there has been no public mention of firing her. At Sanders’ briefing Friday, the press secretary refused to confirm or deny a “leak ... out of an internal meeting.”
The far bigger issue to Sanders appeared to be the leak. At Friday’s closed-door meeting, Sanders called Sadler’s comment “unacceptable,” according to ABC News, citing multiple sources. But the press secretary also said the comment didn’t justify the “selfish” leak, Axios reported.