President Donald Trump is crying “fake news” on the report that someone in his administration asked for the USS John McCain to be out of sight for his trip to Japan. The only problem — the president admitted hours before that the story was true.
“The Navy put out a disclaimer on the McCain story,” Trump tweeted Thursday night. “Looks like the story was an exaggeration, or even Fake News – but why not, everything else is!”
The Navy put out a disclaimer on the McCain story. Looks like the story was an exaggeration, or even Fake News – but why not, everything else is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
Trump’s Thursday night tweet is a far cry from his Thursday morning encounter with reporters, where he didn’t deny that the story was true but rather that he “wasn’t involved.”
“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say,” he told reporters.
Watch the video below:
"I don't know what happened. I wasn't involved. I would not have done that … I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form," Trump says when asked if it's fair that the sailors of the U.S.S. John McCain were banned from hearing him speak https://t.co/VLLWonHslG pic.twitter.com/tGVBCsGXQ3
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 30, 2019
He later added, “I don’t know who did it. We’ll probably be able to find out who did it. They thought they were doing me a favor because they know I’m not a fan of John McCain.”
So Trump admitted that it happened, but that he had nothing to do with it which lines up with the original Wall Street Journal report. The Journal never claimed Trump was involved, but rather reported that an official from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command emailed Navy officials and directed them to remove the warship from sight.
The report has been confirmed by various outlets and military and administration sources. Three U.S. officials confirmed the existence of the email to the Associated Press and two Navy officials confirmed to CNN that the directive came from the White House.
Then there are the photographs of a tarp covering the name of the ship that was taken days before Trump’s arrival, although the tarp was removed by the time the president was in Japan.
The Navy’s disclaimer that Trump is referring to in his “fake news” tweet clarified this point, that the name of the ship was visible during the president’s trip. Again, this point was made in the original report.
The only part of the report that has been officially denied is that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was aware of the directive to obscure the USS John McCain. Shanahan told reporters that he heard of the incident through the media and was not involved.