POLITICS
06/05/2018 08:13 pm ET Updated Jun 06, 2018

White House Aide Kelly Sadler Out After Mocking 'Dying' John McCain

The press aide caught heat for remarking on the senator’s cancer in a private meeting.

Kelly Sadler, the White House aide who reportedly mocked Sen. John McCain’s aggressive brain cancer, no longer works in the Trump administration, the White House said Tuesday.

“Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the Executive Office of the President,” White House spokesman Raj Shah stated.

Sadler could find a job elsewhere in the administration, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.” Conway did not comment on why Sadler left the White House.

“Kelly Sadler has been told there are administration jobs that fit with her skill set and her experience,” Conway said, “and that the rest is really her choice what she would like to do next.”

CNN, citing three unnamed sources, first reported Tuesday that Sadler had left the White House. Sadler caused an outcry last month for reportedly dismissing McCain as “dying anyway” after the Arizona Republican announced his opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel. 

The White House did not deny reports of Sadler’s comment at the time, and released a statement affirming respect for McCain, who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Sadler’s remark may have been meant as a “joke,” but “fell flat,” a White House official told CNN.

Sadler’s heartless remark quickly drew a firestorm of criticism, including from McCain’s wife, Cindy.

Sadler later called McCain’s daughter Meghan, a host of ABC’s “The View,” to apologize, according to The Hill and CNN.

Meghan McCain criticized Sadler’s comments as reflective of the Trump White House.

“I don’t understand the kind of environment you’re working in where that would be acceptable and you could come into work the next day and still have a job,” she said, adding: “It’s not how you die. It’s how you live.”

The younger McCain later commented on the lack of a public acknowledgment from Sadler, who had promised her a public apology, she said. She noted that she “did not receive that,” and remarked that the White House was incapable of apology.

John McCain was tortured in Vietnam and has long spoken against the U.S. government’s so-called enhanced interrogation tactics. He said he was dismayed that Haspel, who played an influential role in the CIA’s torture program after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, had dodged questions about the morality of the program during her Senate hearing.

“Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing,” McCain said in a statement. “Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

Trump has frequently attacked McCain, famously saying in 2015 that he prefers military heroes who “weren’t captured.”

McCain reportedly does not want Trump to attend his funeral, with friends asking the White House to send Vice President Mike Pence instead.

This article has been updated to include Kellyanne Conway’s comment.

Doha Madani and Hayley Miller contributed reporting.

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