President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Twitter for the second time this weekend, accusing him of sharing the infamous Russia dossier with the media and mocking him over his academic record at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The president falsely claimed recently unsealed court documents proved McCain sent the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and alleged Russia has salacious material about Trump that could be used for blackmail, to the FBI and media ahead of the 2016 election.
“He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual),” Trump tweeted Sunday.
So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
Court documents actually revealed David Kramer, a former State Department official and McCain associate, shared the dossier with several media outlets in December 2016 ― after Trump won the presidency.
No evidence has surfaced that McCain himself leaked the unconfirmed dossier to the press, which he denied doing. He confirmed in his 2018 memoir that he gave the dossier to then-FBI director James Comey in December 2016.
Kramer’s role in disseminating the dossier was disclosed in a recently unsealed transcript of a court deposition he gave in December 2017.
Trump has repeatedly claimed the dossier was “fake” and “totally discredited,” though many of its claims have been proven at least partially true.
Trump also used his Sunday tweet to knock McCain’s grades when he was a student decades ago at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, claiming he was “last in his class.” McCain, who died in August 2018 after a more than year-long fight with brain cancer, graduated fifth from the bottom of his class in 1958.
“I was something of a discipline problem to begin with,” McCain had said of his time at the academy. “The problem being, I didn’t like discipline.”
Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, recently revealed in congressional testimony that during the 2016 presidential campaign, he made threats on behalf of his boss to schools Trump had attended to prevent them from releasing his academic record to the public.
Trump on Saturday quoted Ken Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation resulted in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, as calling the Russian dossier “a very dark stain” against McCain.
“He had far worse ‘stains’ than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years campaigning to repeal and replace,” Trump tweeted, referring to McCain’s vote against the GOP bill to kill the Affordable Care Act in July 2017.
Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier “is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain.” Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel. He had far worse “stains” than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2019
Meghan McCain, co-host of ABC’s “The View” and one of the late senator’s children, tore into Trump over his tweets.
“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father,” she tweeted on Saturday. “I wish I had been given more [Saturdays] with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?”
She posted another response on Sunday that said, “My father lives rent free in your head.” She later deleted the tweet.
No one will ever love you the way they loved my father…. I wish I had been given more Saturday’s with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine? https://t.co/q7ezwmHiQ4
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) March 16, 2019
In an apparent reaction to the TV personality’s words, Trump retweeted a message on Sunday penned by one of his supporters.
“Millions of Americans truly LOVE President Trump, not McCain,” the tweet read.
President Trump just retweeted this. pic.twitter.com/0o57KpZdyx
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 17, 2019
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close friend of McCain’s, defended his former colleague’s legacy on Sunday.
″[McCain] stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body,” he tweeted. “Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished.”
Graham had been an outspoken Trump critic before becoming one of the president’s most high-profile supporters in recent months, sparking confusion and anger from some of those who, like him, had been staunch McCain allies.
As to @SenJohnMcCain and his devotion to his country: He stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body. (1/2)
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 17, 2019
Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished. (2/2)
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 17, 2019
Trump and McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, frequently butted heads over the last few years. Trump, who avoided military service multiple times as a young man, infamously mocked the decorated Navy veteran for having been held as a prisoner of war for over five years during the Vietnam War.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” called on Trump to apologize for his tweets attacking McCain.
“I’ve long thought that his personal and direct attacks on Sen. McCain was one of the most detestable things about President Trump’s conduct as a candidate,” Coons said. “I frankly think that the president’s continued attacks on the now late Sen. John McCain is something that is regrettable.”
Sen. Chris Coons calls on Pres. Trump to "apologize" for tweets attacking the late Sen. John McCain: "I've long thought that his personal and direct attacks on Sen. McCain was one of the most detestable things about Pres. Trump's conduct as a candidate" https://t.co/P6iz1j1VA4 pic.twitter.com/rub19dJsHv
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 17, 2019
This story has been updated to include Graham’s comments and Trump’s retweet.