The White House aide who reportedly mocked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for “dying” during an internal meeting last week is “a little bit of a victim here” because her comments were leaked to the press, according to the chairman of the American Conservative Union.
“Kelly is my friend and I feel bad she is going through this,” Matt Schlapp told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday morning, referencing White House special assistant Kelly Sadler, who reportedly made the comment. “She showed character to immediately call to apologize, but she’s also a little bit of a victim here. I don’t blame anyone like you, Chris, for running with leaks out of the White House, it’s your job. … The problem is none of us were in that room. The people who leaked what she said are clearly people who have an animus against her and that’s the problem in this White House.”
Schlapp — whose wife Mercedes Schlapp works in the White House and told Axios this weekend that she supports Sadler — also defended Sadler over the remarks about McCain, claiming her comment may not have been a morbid joke, but rather a factual observation about how McCain, or a “replacement” senator, might vote on the nomination of Gina Haspel to run the CIA.
“It is a perfectly logical thing to say, ‘Hey, will there be a McCain replacement? Will there be a McCain? Will he not be able to come to Washington?’ She could have meant it very matter of factually, she could’ve meant it in a different way,” he said, before noting that the White House made a mistake when it commented on the leak. “You will never be able to appropriately run your agenda and you shouldn’t comment on it.”
Schlapp’s remarks come as the White House faces criticism for not punishing Sadler or condemning her reported remarks about McCain. During a meeting discussing Haspel’s nomination last week, Sadler reportedly said that McCain’s opposition to the nomination didn’t matter because he’s “dying anyway.” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said over the weekend that Sadler’s comments were “awful,” but not necessarily a fireable offense.
McCain has been battling brain cancer since last fall and is currently home in Arizona recovering from treatments.
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