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‘The McCain family deserves better,’ GOP senator says as Trump continues to lash out

By ALEX HORTON | The Washington Post | Published: March 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — It’s all too much for Sen. Johnny Isakson to take. The Georgia Republican could not stand the “unthinkable” last year when the White House flag lowered — and then soon raised — its flag from half-staff to recognize the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

That was one moment among others that Isakson has said is a pattern of President Trump’s attacks on McCain that “drive me crazy.” And after an escalation of bitter words from the president this week, Isakson is ready to deliver what he calls a whipping on Wednesday.

“I just want to lay it on the line, that the country deserves better, the McCain family deserves better. I don’t care if he’s president of United States, owns all the real estate in New York, or is building the greatest immigration system in the world,” Isakson told the Bulwark, a conservative news website.

“Nothing is more important than the integrity of the country and those who fought and risked their lives for all of us.”

Trump unloaded on the legacy of McCain, who died of brain cancer last year, in several tweets this week. On Tuesday, he decried McCain’s vote against repealing Obamacare.

“I think that’s a disgrace, plus there are other things,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be.”

Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” blasted Trump and defended her father on Wednesday.

Her father “would think it was hilarious that our president was so jealous of him that he was dominating the news cycle in death,” she said.

Trump’s attacks also have appeared to unleash trolls targeting the McCain family. Soon after the president’s Oval Office remarks, Cindy McCain posted a profanity-laced message she received on Facebook.

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A woman called John McCain, a former Navy pilot who endured years of torture as a prisoner in Vietnam, “traitorous” and celebrated his death.

“I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be,” Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter, referring to the woman.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joined his Republican colleague in a rebuke Wednesday.

“I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God,” Romney wrote on Twitter.

Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is a general supporter of Trump but often extends more criticisms of the president than many Republican lawmakers.

After last year’s controversy over the raising, lowering and re-raising of the flag, he took to the Senate floor to blast the perceived insult to McCain, although he did not single out the president in his remarks.

“Anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping because most of those who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn’t have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn,” he said.

The focus has since narrowed to Trump. Isakson watched Trump’s Tuesday remarks and their impact.

“These kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead, it just sets the worst tone possible,” he told the Bulwark.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., addresses VA Secretary Robert Wilkie during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES

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