epa06097696 (FILE) - US Senator from Arizona John McCain attends a committee's hearing on the nomination of Richard Spencer to be Secretary of the Navy, on...
MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Trump takes the USS McCain story in a new, weird direction

Updated

It’s been five days since we learned that the White House directed U.S. military officials to move the USS John McCain “out of sight” ahead of Donald Trump’s visit to Japan. In that time, the president and his team have changed their story five times.

Let’s recap. The initial response from the Trump administration was surprise and incredulity. The president soon after said the story was “an exaggeration, or even Fake News.”

The administration then changed course again, acknowledging that the story was accurate. A day later, the White House embraced the central claim, insisting it was “not an unreasonable thing” for Team Trump to try to protect the president’s feelings by asking the Navy to move a warship bearing the name of a deceased hero Trump doesn’t like.

Now, the president has taken a step backwards, questioning reality again.

President Donald Trump, never one to be restrained by the truth, is now positing that the debacle around hiding a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain and his family may not have even happened.

“First of all, I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not even sure it happened,” Trump told Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain.” “I hear it’s fake news. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.”

As for McCain, the Republican president added, “I was not a fan. I didn’t like what he did to health care. I didn’t like how he handled the veterans – because I got ‘em choice and he was always unable.”

Let’s take a minute to do a little fact-checking.

First, it’s a little late for Trump to suggest the USS McCain incident may not have happened. His own administration has already confirmed, more than once, that it did.

Second, the president’s recollection of what the late GOP senator did “to health care” is quite a bit fuzzier than it should be.

But it’s Trump’s rhetoric about veterans that was especially notable. To hear the president tell it, he managed to lead the way on a “veterans’ choice” policy, while McCain failed on the issue. That’s not even close to being true.

Trump said he passed a private-sector health care program, Veterans Choice, after failed attempts by past presidents for the last “45 years.” That’s not true. The Choice program, which allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense, was first passed in 2014 under President Barack Obama.

The bill Obama signed into law five years ago was co-sponsored by … wait for it … John McCain.

Maybe Trump should just start avoiding this subject?

Donald Trump and John McCain

Trump takes the USS McCain story in a new, weird direction

Updated