Flag controversy at White House over McCain death

DOVER — Delaware flags will remain at half-staff until Sept. 2 to honor U.S. Sen. John McCain, Gov. John Carney announced Monday.

The White House received criticism Monday for returning the flag above the building to full-staff after lowering it Saturday night.

Protocol for the death of a serving member of Congress calls for the flag to be lowered to half staff on the day the official dies and for the day after.

At the request of senators on Monday the flag at the White House was again lowered to half-staff.

Sen. McCain, R-Arizona, who died Saturday, has been praised by politicians of all stripes since his passing was announced.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he “cast a long shadow” and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., praised the Arizona Republican as “someone who cared so deeply, sacrificed so much, and represented the best of the United States of America.”

The administration also didn’t issue a formal statement after Sen. McCain’s death. Instead, President Trump tweeted his expression of sympathy for the McCain family.

“It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said in a statement.

“And by lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans.”

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said the world “will not let a lone act of pettiness and insecurity take away from the legacy of a man who served our country with honor and distinction for over 60 years and was a true leader in every sense of the word.”

Sen. McCain had been a fierce antagonist of the president since the 2016 campaign when Mr. Trump remarked that he preferred war heroes who gave their lives for their country over those who surrendered to the enemy.

Sen. McCain, a Navy pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and spent six years as a prisoner of war. He was permanently disabled from his wounds.

The Senate majority and minority leaders jointly asked the Department of Defense to keep U.S. flags on all government buildings at half-staff until sunset Sunday, when Sen. McCain will be interred.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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