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Trump claims he approved John McCain's funeral — here's what actually happened

Trump escalates McCain criticism
Trump escalates criticism of late Sen. John McCain 08:18

President Trump escalated his one-sided feud against the late Sen. John McCain this week, claiming in a Wednesday speech that nobody thanked him for the late senator's funeral. The president claimed that he, as president, "had to approve" that funeral.

"I endorsed him at his request," Mr. Trump said of McCain. "And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president, I had to approve. I don't care about this, I didn't get a 'thank you' and that's okay."

But it's unclear what the president meant by that, as the late senator's funeral did not require his approval. McCain, a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, died in August 2018 after a battle with brain cancer. Mr. Trump did not attend McCain's funeral in Washington, D.C., where he was eulogized by former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. 

McCain's casket did travel on a plane generally reserved for vice presidents and VIPs that is under the president's control. And the president has jurisdiction over the arrival and departure at Joint Base Andrews, a military facility owned by the Air Force, where the plane landed and took off. But that's about where Mr. Trump's involvement ended. 

The National Cathedral, which held McCain's funeral service last year, said only state funerals for former presidents involve consultation with government officials, and no funeral requires the president's approval. 

"Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain," Kevin Eckstrom, chief communications officer of the Washington National Cathedral, said in a statement. "All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials. No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official."

While McCain's casket was traveling the streets of D.C., there were rolling road closures for the funeral procession, overseen by D.C. police and Capitol Hill Special Events police. U.S. Secret Service also had a role in the proceedings. 

McCain's family arranged a separate memorial service for the senator in Arizona. 

McCain also lay in state in the U.S. Capitol for three days. But that honor was announced by then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in consultation with the two top Congressional Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer. 

Mr. Trump also took two days after McCain's death to order the lowering of the flags at the White House, doing so only after intense public criticism. 

— CBS News' Kathryn Watson contributed to this report. 

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