Acting White House Chief of Staff and Lead Gaslighter Mick Mulvaney had his talking points with him about the USS John S. McCain as he made the rounds of Sunday news talk shows.
Mulvaney repeated the same responses when asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd and Fox News’ Chris Wallace if someone at the White House was involved in asking the Navy to move the warship during Donald Trump’s visit to Japan over Memorial Day weekend, and whether they should be fired.
It was a 23- or 24-year-old who made the request. It was much ado about nothing. Nothing happened. Hundreds of people are involved. You’ve wasted two minutes of my time on a Sunday.
The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier this week that the White House wanted the Navy to move the USS John S. McCain, which was named after the late Sen. John McCain’s grandfather and father, “out of sight” during Trump’s visit.
The report said that sailors on the ship were given the day off during Trump’s visit, a large tarp was hung over the ship’s name, and a barge was moved to block the ship’s visibility after the tarp was removed.
That prompted White House and Pentagon officials to blame lower-level staff, and Trump to deny knowledge of the request while simultaneously criticizing the late McCain, and saying that whoever did it was “well-meaning.”
Later, Trump declared the story “Fake News.”
But on Saturday, Rear Adm. Charlie Brown, the Navy’s chief of information, confirmed the request was made, forcing Mulvaney to admit the same thing the next day.
“A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President’s visit,” Brown said in a statement. “There were also no intentional efforts to explicitly exclude Sailors assigned to USS John S. McCain.”
On Meet the Press, Mulvaney said he “absolutely” believes someone on the president’s advance team made the request. Then he threw an unnamed staffer under the bus, using that person’s youth as a weapon.
“The fact that some 23- or 24-year-old person on the advance team went to that site and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s the John McCain, we all know how the president feels about the former senator, maybe that’s not the best backdrop. Can somebody look into moving it?’ That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask,” Mulvaney said.
He added: “To think that you’re going to get fired over this is silly. If you’re going to a staff meeting, so look, Chuck is fighting with so-and-so, let’s not sit them together today at the meeting. Is that a fireable offense at NBC?”
Totally the same thing: a U.S. warship in Japan, Memorial Day, a deceased war hero senator at odds with a draft-dodging president, unfriendly colleagues at a news network staff meeting...
“This has now gotten two minutes of time on Sunday afternoon, and it’s just outrageous,” Mulvaney said.
On Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney reiterated that Trump didn’t know about the request, and that “literally hundreds of people are involved in moving the president overseas.”
When Wallace asked if anyone would be disciplined in the White House over the incident, Mulvaney put on his tough face and replied, “No. Does someone get disciplined at Fox News for saying that so-and-so doesn’t want to sit next to so-and-so at a meeting? No.”
Mulvaney added: “If a 23- or 24-year-old person says, ‘Look, is it really a good idea for this ship to be in the background,’ that is not an unreasonable question to have, and it’s certainly not something that takes up two minutes of national television on Sunday.”
Hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar.