'Ridiculous' That McCain Doesn't Want Trump at His Funeral: Sen. Hatch

In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a closed-door session where Republican senators met on the GOP effort to overhaul the tax code, on Capitol Hill in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a closed-door session where Republican senators met on the GOP effort to overhaul the tax code, on Capitol Hill in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Monday that it is "ridiculous" for the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, not to want President Donald Trump at his funeral.

"I think John should have his own wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends the funeral," Hatch told CNN, but "I think it's ridiculous" not to have the president in attendance.

The 84-year-old Hatch, the Senate's senior Republican, suggested that McCain, still chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should use his final days to get over his personal and political enmity for Trump.

"He's the president of the United States, and he's a very good man," Hatch said of Trump.

The president "would be a very interesting speaker and would do a good job for John," Hatch said, adding that he hoped for McCain's recovery and return to the Senate. However, Hatch said he has been told that the 81-year-old McCain will never return.

Over the weekend, McCain's family and close associates expressed his wishes not to have Trump at his funeral, which is planned to take place in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. McCain prefers to have Vice President Mike Pence come instead, The New York Times reported.

McCain, through his family and associates, asked that former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush speak at his funeral.

Following the death of former first lady Barbara Bush last month, the Bush family also let it be known that Trump would not be welcome at memorial services in Texas. First lady Melania Trump attended instead.

In his comments to CNN, Hatch called McCain a "hero," a reference to his nearly five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and said he "will go down in history as a wonderful senator."

During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Trump said that McCain was not the type of hero he admired.

"He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured," said Trump, who had several education deferments during the Vietnam War and then a 1Y medical deferment for bone spurs in his foot.

McCain announced last summer that he is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer -- the same type that killed his friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. He went home to Arizona for the Christmas recess and has not returned to the Senate since.

While at home at his ranch near Sedona, Arizona, McCain, with his long-time collaborator Mark Salter, wrote a book called "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations," due to be published May 22.

In an excerpt from the book advertised on Amazon, McCain wrote, "I don't know how much longer I'll be here. Maybe I'll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they'll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I'll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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