After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died on Saturday, American flags were lowered throughout the nation’s capital, which is customary after a top politician passes away while in office. But are flags at half staff still? Not at the White House. On Monday, the flags at the White House flew at full mast, drawing a firestorm of criticism for President Trump.
Are flags at half staff for John McCain still?
What about in the rest of the country? Are flags at half staff still? Yes, flags are still at half staff outside other government buildings throughout Washington, D.C., including outside the Senate and the House. The custom is for them to fly at half-mast for a week.
According to presidential protocol, the White House flag should have flown at half staff from the announcement of McCain’s death until his burial. Custom also dictates that President Trump was to issue a proclamation about the senator’s passing. Neither happened. Instead, Trump tweeted his “deepest sympathies” and said that “our hearts and prayers are with you.”
President Trump and McCain had feuded since at least the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump questioned McCain’s status as a war hero because he was taken as a POW while flying his 23rd mission in the Vietnam War. Trump also resented McCain for casting the deciding vote that rescued Obamacare from full repeal last fall. McCain was generally the member of the GOP most likely to criticize Trump’s policies — particularly toward Russia — and behavior; Trump returned fire on Twitter.
But Trump’s display of pettiness upon McCain’s death is unprecedented, or as Trump would tweet, “unpresidented.” Usually, when a statesman dies, political differences are set aside and length of service emphasized. (McCain served 31 years in Congress and three decades in the military.)
But McCain anticipated it. After being diagnosed with brain cancer last year, McCain specified that Trump was not to attend his funeral. Instead, former President Obama and former President George W. Bush will deliver eulogies.
On Friday, McCain will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, and his funeral will be held the next day at Washington National Cathedral.