Melania Trump agreed with her husband that ‘John McCain isn’t a war hero,’ a former aide says

Melania and Donald Trump Rose Garden
Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump.

  • Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign looked finished when he said McCain wasn’t a “war hero.”
  • Pundits and conservative talk show hosts said he had to apologize or he was out.
  • But his wife agreed with Trump, his former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski told Insider.
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Former first lady Melania Trump shared her husband’s low opinion of the late Republican Sen. John McCain’s military record.

She agreed with then-candidate Donald Trump when he said during a 2016 GOP primary event in Iowa that the Arizona senator was “not a war hero,” according to Trump’s former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski.

Lewandowski, who spoke to Insider as part of an oral history project on Trump’s takeover of the GOP, said he and Trump met up with Melania Trump in New Jersey as political pundits and conservative talk-show hosts were saying Trump had to apologize. He thought the comment would end Trump’s campaign.

“As we walked in the door, Mrs. Trump was waiting for us,” Lewandowski said. “She said: ‘You’re right. John McCain isn’t a war hero. What he has done for the veterans has been shameful.'”

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

Michael Cohen, who worked during the 2016 campaign as Trump’s personal attorney, acknowledged to Insider as part of the oral history project that Melania Trump wasn’t shy about sharing her thoughts to her husband.

“Melania played a very limited role during the campaign not believing Donald would actually win,” Cohen said. “However, when directly asked for her opinion on a matter by Donald, she offered it readily.”

A spokesperson for Melania Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump attacked McCain in July 2015 during the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, in the first of several moments when it looked like Trump’s campaign was over before it had even really begun. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, had been a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump told the moderator Frank Luntz. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump’s gripes about McCain continued after his death on August 25, 2018. Trump was not invited to the funeral, although former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both delivered eulogies.

When McCain died, Melania Trump tweeted, “Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family. Thank you Senator McCain for your service to the nation.”

A day later, her husband broke his silence on McCain’s death and tweeted, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

To read the full Trump oral history story, click here.

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Arizona Republican committee is debating a proposal to censure Cindy McCain, wife of the late GOP Sen. John McCain

Cindy McCain-Doug Ducey
Cindy McCain embraces GOP Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona at an Election night party on November 6, 2018.

  • The Republican committee in Arizona’s most populous county considered censuring Cindy McCain, the widow of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, according to The Arizona Republic.
  • The Maricopa County Republican Committee floated a proposal on Saturday that would have censured McCain, but the measure did not move forward.
  • The state party confirmed via Twitter that they would vote on a resolution to censure McCain on Jan. 23.
  • Cindy McCain was a prominent Republican supporter of President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign against President Donald Trump.
  • “I am a proud lifelong Republican and will continue to support candidates who put country over party and stand for the rule of law,” she tweeted on Jan. 9.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Republican committee in Arizona’s most populous county considered censuring Cindy McCain, the widow of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, according to The Arizona Republic.

The Maricopa County Republican Committee discussed a proposal on Saturday that would have censured McCain, but the measure did not move forward, according to an acting secretary at the event.

However, the state party confirmed on Twitter that they would vote on a resolution to censure McCain on Jan. 23.

Taking such an action would be a radical departure from her longstanding position of influence within the Arizona Republican Party. McCain’s late husband, Sen. McCain, represented the state in the US Senate from 1987 until his death in 2018, and was the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

However, the Maricopa GOP did censure former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and the Senate from 2013 to 2019 and endorsed President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Read more: How full Democratic control of Washington DC could transform real estate

In response to the proposed censure, McCain reaffirmed her Republican bona fides.

“I am a proud lifelong Republican and will continue to support candidates who put country over party and stand for the rule of law,” she wrote on Twitter.

Cindy McCain, who has endured repeated insults aimed at her late husband from Trump, was a prominent Republican surrogate for President-elect Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Biden, who served in the US Senate for 36 years, most of them alongside Sen. McCain, has been close with the McCain family for years. 

The president-elect was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win Arizona since 1996, capturing the fast-growing Southwestern state by more than 10,000 votes.

During the 2020 Democratic National Convention, McCain had a prime speaking slot, where she fondly recalled the relationship between Biden and her late husband.

Cindy McCain has never held elective office, but in November, she was reportedly being considered to become Biden’s US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

On Jan. 2, her daughter, Meghan McCain, took to Twitter to blast the Arizona GOP after they sent out a disparaging tweet blasting Sen. McCain.

“As the sun sets on 2020, remember that we’re never going back to the party of [Mitt] Romney, Flake, and McCain,” the Arizona GOP’s official Twitter account said. “The Republican Party is now, and forever will be, one for the working man and woman! God bless.”

Meghan McCain replied that whoever was running the account could “go to hell.”

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‘Go to hell’: Meghan McCain slams Arizona GOP for attacking her late father

Meghan McCain
Meghan McCain.

  • Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” berated the Arizona GOP on Saturday for a tweet critical of her late father, longtime US Sen. John McCain.
  • After the Arizona GOP tweeted that they were “never going back to the party of [Sen.] McCain,” Meghan McCain said that the person “running this twitter account can go to hell.”
  • She also mocked the Arizona GOP’s performance this past November, with President-elect Joe Biden flipping the state to the Democratic column and Democrat Mark Kelly defeating appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Meghan McCain, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” berated the Arizona GOP on Saturday for a tweet critical of her late father, longtime US Sen. John McCain.

McCain, a vocal Republican, was angered by a tweet that slammed the legacy of her late father, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and represented the state in the US Senate from 1987 until his death in August 2018.

“As the sun sets on 2020, remember that we’re never going back to the party of [Mitt] Romney, [Jeff] Flake, and [John] McCain,” the Arizona GOP’s official Twitter account stated. “The Republican Party is now, and forever will be, one for the working man and woman! God bless.”

McCain responded: “Honestly whomever is running this twitter account can go to hell.”

She also mocked the GOP’s statewide performance this past November, adding: “How’d that work out on Election Day in Arizona?”

In the most recent election, President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1996. Democrat Mark Kelly was also elected to the Senate, beating appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally to fill the remainder of Sen. McCain’s term in the Senate.

Cindy McCain, Sen. McCain’s widow, endorsed Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Over the past few years, Meghan McCain has often lamented the direction of the GOP under Trump, as her father was a constant target of attacks from the president.

Read more: Secret Service experts are speculating in group chats about how Trump might be hauled out of the White House if he won’t budge on Inauguration Day

Less than a month ago, McCain criticized Trump on Twitter for calling her late father “one of the most overrated people in D.C.”

“Two years after he died, you still obsess over my dad,” she wrote. “It kills you that no one will ever love you or remember you like they loved and remember him. He served his country with honor, you have disgraced the office of the presidency. You couldn’t even pull it out in Arizona.”

Sen. McCain, who withdrew his support of Trump in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, was also the pivotal vote that kept the Affordable Care Act largely in place, which has angered the president for years.

Since the death of Sen. McCain and the retirement of former Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona GOP has shifted further right.

Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, has had an acrimonious relationship with the McCain family, having run a scorched-earth primary campaign against the late senator for the 2016 GOP Senate nomination, which she lost. McCain was reelected to a sixth term in the Senate that fall.

A Navy lieutenant and prisoner of war in Vietnam, Sen McCain rose to become one of the most influential and well-known senators in the body, maintaining a strong focus on defense and foreign affairs.

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