WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Thursday he knew nothing about White House efforts to hide a Navy destroyer named in part after the late Senator John McCain during Mr. Trump’s state visit to Japan earlier this week. But, he said, whoever made the request was “well meaning” because the person or people knew Mr. Trump did not like Mr. McCain.
The request was an effort to keep Mr. McCain’s name out of photographs while Mr. Trump was in Yokosuka. And two Navy sailors who worked on the ship said they were turned away from Mr. Trump’s speech on another ship, the amphibious assault ship Wasp.
“Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, O.K.”? Mr. Trump said Thursday. “They were well-meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.”
Mr. Trump made a similar statement in a Twitter post late Wednesday.
Navy officials said they did not hide the ship, which was named for the senator’s father and grandfather. Senator McCain’s name was added to the official namesake last summer.
Mr. Trump also criticized Mr. McCain on Thursday for having delivered a critical vote against the president’s health care proposal in July 2017 and said Mr. McCain carried “a lot” of responsibility for former President George W. Bush’s decision “to go into the Middle East, which was a catastrophe.”
“So I wasn’t a fan of John McCain, I never will be,” Mr. Trump said. “But I couldn’t care less if there is a boat named after his father.”
Mr. Trump regularly lashed out at Mr. McCain while he was alive and has remained critical of him since he died last year from brain cancer. He dismissed Mr. McCain’s service in Vietnam, when he was held as a war prisoner, saying he was not a hero. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Mr. Trump has said.
Just last month, Mr. Trump repeated one of his favorite insults, that Mr. McCain finished “last in his class” at the Naval Academy (Mr. McCain actually graduated fifth from the bottom).