Sen. Martha McSally called for an investigation Thursday into which White House official requested that a warship bearing the name of late Sen. John McCain, his father and his grandfather be concealed ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to its homeport in Japan.
“I am appalled to hear of the allegations surrounding the USS John S. McCain,” McSally said in a statement to the Arizona Republic. “There needs to be a full investigation into who ordered it and what occurred.”
The Republican senator from Arizona was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill McCain’s seat last December after former Sen. Jon Kyl had filled it temporarily. McSally fell short in her election against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for the state’s other Senate seat in November.
The White House Military Office reportedly requested that Navy officials keep the ship’s name out of sight during the president’s trip to the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. The ship was under repair, so officials covered the name with a tarp, according to the Wall Street Journal. The tarp was removed before the president’s arrival, according to CNN.
The press reports added a new, posthumous chapter to the feud between Trump and McCain, which stretches back to the earliest days of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015.
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona also raised concerns that “prioritizing the emotional instability of the president over the morale of the USS John S. McCain’s crew will affect readiness” in a letter to Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson, the Republic reported.
Trump denied knowing about the request to obscure McCain’s name.
“I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
I was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan. Nevertheless, @FLOTUS and I loved being with our great Military Men and Women – what a spectacular job they do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
McCain’s name was added to the ship in a ceremony in 2018. The late senator’s father and grandfather both reached the rank of admiral.