Officers were told to keep the warship named for the late Sen. John McCain out of President Trump’s view during his Memorial Day weekend visit to Japan, CBS News has confirmed.
CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reported that a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official wrote an email to Navy and Air Force officials before President Trump’s arrival. The email included instructions for the proper landing areas for helicopters and preparations for the USS Wasp, the ship on which the president was to speak.
The official then issued a third instruction: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,” according to the email, which was first obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post and Associated Press also confirmed its existence.
Three U.S. officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private email correspondence.The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey tweeted late Wednesday that, “Admin officials confirm WSJ story. Request was made to make sure McCain ship wasn’t visible. Aides say Trump wasn’t involved in request — but it was made to prevent any potential ire from POTUS.”
In response to the story, Trump tweeted that he “was not informed about anything having to do with the Navy Ship USS John S. McCain during my recent visit to Japan.”
In Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday morning, Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters, “When I read about it this morning, it was the first I heard about it.”
He later told reporters traveling with him to a security conference in Singapore that he would ask his chief of staff to look into the reports.
“I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activities regarding that ship,” Shanahan said.
He said he would never dishonor the memory of a great American like McCain or disrespect the young men and women in the crew of the ship.